© Stephen B Whatley
" Since 2000, when I made a painting of the Baby Jesus on Christmas Day, I have increasingly felt compelled to express the depth of my Christian faith - upon which I depend- through my art.
My faith has grown through suffering and heartbreak - and miraculous moments of joyous overcoming- not through indoctrination.
Along the way I have been enriched by learning of the different Saints - some of whose intercession I have been humbly honoured to feel. Most recently I have been deeply moved to learn of the life and faith of St Clare of Assisi - whom I have painted with deep prayer just days ago..."
St Clare, described as a great beauty, was born in 1194 in Assisi, Italy to a family of great wealth and from her earliest years had a great yearning for a more spiritual life. She was greatly inspired in her teens by hearing St Francis of Assisi preach; and with all her heart desired to imitate Francis and to live a poor humble life for Jesus. Along with her younger sister Agnes, she co-founded a community of nuns, still known throughout the world as Poor Clares.
In 1234, through the depth of her prayers, God saved Clare and her Sisters when the army of Frederick II launched an attack on Assisi; planning to raid the convent first. Clare was very sick, but she pulled herself up from her bed and proceeded to face the invaders at an open window - placing the Blessed Sacrament in clear view of them. In artistic depictions St Clare is often shown holding the monstrance (as in Stephen's tribute )or the ciborium; as she prays for help and protection. She begged God to save the Sisters: "O Lord, protect these Sisters whom I cannot protect now". At this moment the attackers were struck with sudden fear and fled.
Her prayers would defeat future dangers in her lifetime; before St Clare passed away in 1253.
Clare was canonised in 1255. St Clare is Patron Saint of among other things, 'sore eyes'; and as recently as 1958, Pope Pius XII chose St Clare of Assisi to be Patron Saint of Television.
Recognising the importance of this then relatively new communications medium, he qualified his dedication by recalling a time in St Clare's life when she was too ill on Christmas Eve to attend Midnight Mass. She sighed, "See Lord, I am left alone with You" as the Sisters left for Mass. At that moment God granted Clare a vision in which she saw and heard the Mass as if she had been present in the convent chapel...
Dedicated to Albert - who was healed by prayers byThe Order of Poor Clares; & who prays for healing. His Flickr.com site, olofgoodwill reflects his deep faith...thank you Albert.
Oil on canvas, 30 x 24in