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Montefalco, Italy: Saint Clare of the Cross

Some 41 miles north of Orvieto and about 22 miles west of Assisi you will find the Umbrian town of Montefalco, home to Saint Clare of the Cross. This saint is not to be confused with Saint Clare of Assisi, who is found in nearby Assisi.


About Saint Clare of the Cross:

Although the exact date of her birth is not known for certain, it is estimated that Clare was born around 1268 to a wealthy family in Montefalco. Her older sister, Joan, lived as a Third Order Franciscan in a hermitage built by their father. Around the very young age of six Clare was allowed to join the order as well. In 1291, when her sister died, Clare was chosen (much against her wishes) to be the Abbess of what was now an order according to the rule of Saint Augustine.

In 1294 she was observed falling in to ecstasy and remained so for several weeks, sustained only by sugar water given her by the sisters of the order.

Christ implanting his Cross in the heart of Saint Clare of the Cross, circa 14th century, Unknown artist
Christ implanting his Cross in the heart of Saint Clare of the Cross, circa 14th century, Unknown artist

Clare would later report having a vision during this time of being judged in front of God. Perhaps even more interesting was a vision she had of Jesus, dressed in itinerant clothes and overwhelmed by the weight of the cross that He carried. When Clare approached him and offered to help carry the cross, it was implanted on her heart.

From then on her life was one of pain and suffering, although she continued to have a joyful countenance.

She was canonized in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII. Her Feast Day is celebrated on August 17.


About her shrine in Montefalco:

Upon her death, her heart was removed and found to have an imprint of the Crucifix on it. A statue of her body is on display to pilgrims in the crypt of The Basilica of St. Clare in Montefalco in a glass sarcophagus

Her heart is on display separately in the Church of Saint Augustine in Montefalco.


Traveling to Montefalco:

Montefalco is not on many pilgrimage intineraries that we know of, although it is accessible to independent travelers coming from either Orvieto or Assisi. And if you are traveling with a group and have some extra time we recommend you try to visit here.

Traveling by train, the nearest station is Foligno. From there you take a taxi–about 8 miles.  Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.

The town is quite small (around 5,000 population) so finding the church should be no problem. We are not aware of any official website for the church itself.

Click here to find hotels in Montefalco, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

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