Arriving at the sacristy of the Poor Clares this morning, I was greeted by a copy of a decree from the Apostolic Penitentiary.
I hadn't thought of this yet myself, but we find ourselves approaching the 800th anniversary of the tonsure of St. Clare. As goes the traditional calculation, on the eve of Palm Sunday in 1212, Clare ran away from her family, had Francis cut off her hair (you can go to Assisi and see it in a nice box), and thus began upon the circuitous path of her own religious life that led eventually to her being called the foundress of the Poor Ladies of San Damiano, the Second Order of St. Francis, the Order of St. Clare, the Poor Clares.
In celebration of all this, it seems that Benedict XVI has decreed that a plenary indulgence is available from this past April 16 all the way to after the feast of St. Clare next year, on August 12. The indulgence can be obtained, under the usual conditions of course, by visiting a Poor Clare monastery for some meditation or pious exercise, concluding at least with the recitation of the Our Father and a creed. It is also available for those who participate in any prayerful celebration of this anniversary. As usual, the indulgence can be kept for oneself or applied to the holy souls in purgatory, and is available once a day for the whole period mentioned above.
Of course this is very exciting for me, as I visit the local Poor Clare monastery for Mass once or twice a week.
The only thing I wonder about is the significance of the date of April 16. I would have expected it to be March 20, the traditional date of Clare's 'entrance' into religious life. The only thing I can think of is that April 16 is the old feast of the Profession of St. Francis. Other ideas?