The Poor Clares of Hannut-Bujumbura became Poor Clares of Cornillon

The installation of the Poor Claires sisters in Cornillon took place on Sunday, October 8, 2017 in the presence of Bishop Jean-Pierre Delville. The presence of Poor Clares sisters has been documented in Liege since 1340.

1 Origin of the poor Claires family

In 1206, Francis, son of a rich business man of Assisi, left his ambitious projects, his dreams of greatness, to become the servant of Christ and the Church, totally living the Gospel, Claire, a young girl of the nobility of Assisi, eager to give herself to God, and touched by Francis’ conversion, decided in 1212, at the age of 18, to leave everything, for the love of the Lord and to follow the poor and humble Christ, thus tracing a path of simplicity, penitence and joy. Inspired by the same charism as Francis, Claire received the tonsure and habit of the poor sisters from the hands of Saint Francis in the small Chapel of the Porziuncola.

2 Saint Claire

Canonized only two years after her death, Claire of Assisi lived, following in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi, radical poverty, profound humility and total trust in God.

Claire of Assisi was born into the rich Italian aristocracy in 1193, which she left to adopt the lifestyle of Francis of Assisi. For this reason, she renounced marrying the important man her parents intended for her. And leaves the family home at the age of 18 to devote herself to her vocation.
She secretly joined the Friars Minor in the small church of Porziuncola on Palm Sunday evening in 1211. Saint Claire allowed Francis of Assisi cut her hair and stated wearing the penitential habit of a rough canvas. It is at this moment that she becomes the bride of Christ and consecrates her life entirely to him.

Spiritual friendship

Claire of Assisi found in St. Francis a master and developed with him a deep fraternal and spiritual friendship. The latter also writes “It is beautiful to be able to love on earth as we love in heaven, and to learn to love ourselves in this world as we will do eternally in the other”.
In her letters to Agnes of Prague, daughter of the Bohemian king, who wished to follow in her footsteps, she spoke of Jesus with wedding expressions. It evokes God’s sweet Love and exquisite charm, “He already hugs you, he who has adorned your chest with precious stones”.

Community life

After their first monastic experience of a few months, Claire and her sisters settled in a small convent that the Friars Minor had organized for them in the Church of San Damiano. She died there in 1253, having been the first woman to write a written rule. This rule, submitted for the Pope’s approval, ensured that the charism of Saint Francis of Assisi was preserved in the growing number of women’s communities.
Community life is organized around the work of their hands (they do not receive gifts), in radical poverty (they cannot possess any material property), deep humility, and total trust in divine Providence. Claire and her Poor Claires sisters took care of the poor in the same way that St. Francis also took care of the lepers.
Frail in health, on Christmas night in 1252, Claire, who was bedridden, could not attend the services of the Nativity of Christ. It was then that she was favored with a special grace and was able to hear clearly the entire Liturgy of that blessed night. This earned her the title of “Patroness of Television! »

The Eucharist

In all things, Claire sets an example. She has delicate attentions for her sisters, and a compassionate touch. She heals the sick and multiplies the supplies. She is ready for anything in her charity, even to give her life. On two occasions, the Saracens invaded the country, threatening her Monastery and Assisi! Claire prays in front of the Ciborium where the Holy Eucharist was kept.

The most famous miracle performed by the Saint is the one that dates back to 1240. One Friday in September, Claire, was in front of an assault of Saracen soldiers who had forcibly penetrated into the cloister of her convent in San Damiano, she managed to make them flee by showing them the Holy Host. The attackers, caught in an unexplainable panic, fled. Thus, San Damiano and Assisi was saved.

Holiness

The trust and faith of the saint is so strong that prodigious things happen. Through the ostentation of the Blessed Sacrament, the Saracen mercenaries  who were about to attacked the convent of San Damiano and pound Assisi were kept away. This led Pope Alexander IV to canonize her two years after her death in 1255. She was proclaimed patron saint of television throughout the world by Pius XII on February 14, 1958..

3 History of the foundation of the monastery of the Poor Claires of Hannut-Bujumbura

The genesis

This is the foundation shaft. In 1471, the Monastery of Chambéry was founded by Duchess Yolande, wife of Blessed Amédée IX of Savoy.

Fast track:

In 1478: Chambery founded Grenoble (destroyed by the French Revolution.)
In 1621: Grenoble had founded Romans and 1878: Romans returned to found Grenoble.
In 1891, Grenoble founded Bordeaux-Talence.
On August 7, 1901, Bordeaux-Talence sought refuge in Belgium and founded Mons, which was destroyed in 1940.
It was on July 16, 1930 that the sisters of Mons founded Hannut with the objective of praying for priests and a foundation in Africa.

Foundation in Africa

Thus, in 1957, a certain Murundikazi entered the convent, she felt called to the life of the Poor Claires. When she took up her habit on August 27, 1958, she invited her cousin Father Gabriel BARAKANA a Jesuit who came with Father Michel NTUYAHAGA, then a student at Lumen Vitae, in Brussels. On the feast of the Nativity of Mary on September 8, 1959, Sister Claire Marie made her profession and on October 11, at the time, the maternity of Mary was celebrated, Father Michel NTUYAHAGA was crowned the first Bishop in Burundi.

On December 8, 1962, faithful to their wish to found in Africa, the Liège sisters Marie-Françoise, Marie-Agnès and the Burundian-born sister Claire-Marie arrived at Bujumbura airport and were welcomed with great joy by the White Sisters (Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa) and Sister Claire-Marie’s family. This foundation in Burundi was made at the invitation of Bishop Michel NTUYAHAGA and corresponded to the wishes of the community of Hannut in Belgium.

Fear of persecutions

In 1988, for fear of persecution, the Poor Claires founded a community  in Uvira, Congo (South Kivu), 30 km from Bujumbura. The foundation was first a refuge place. Bishop Jérôme Gapangwa welcomed a small group of sisters to a house in the Diocese and then to the hermitage of Sainte-Claire. The fears being over, the young foundation continued to respond to the wishes of the local population but, in 1995, the unrest in Congo forced the Poor Claires to leave a looted and ruined house.

In 1993: Establishment in Maramvya, in the hills, 150 km from Bujumbura. The aim was to provide the community of Bujumbura with a cool place to stay, with good land to plant wheat, banana and vegetable. It was the Foresta, a typical construction of woods and grass, reminiscent of the Franciscan Umbria. The first unrest in October 1993 brought the project to an end, while the first group of novices miraculously escaped the massacre.

Between 1993 and 2000, exile and foundation of the Monastery of the Annunciation in Ggaba, on a hill in Kampala. Following the ethnic unrest of 1993, the Poor Claires had to move to Uganda, first to Kisubi, to the sisters of St. Peter Claver, for a year, then to Namagunga, thanks to Bishop Wamala, Archbishop of Kampala, who soon, in 1998, also wanted them in his diocese. Thus began on March 25th, 2000, the monastery of the Annunciation, while the formation of the aspirants continued in Bujumbura and Hannut, according to the teaching of St. Clare.

Return to Belgium and Cornillon

In 2002, several Poor Claires returned to the founding monastery of Hannut at number 23, rue de Villers-le-Peuplier for several reasons: continuity of contemplative life, formation of young sisters and welcoming people according to their needs. The first occupants were: Sisters Marie-Françoise, Marie-Agnès and Claire-Marie, joint by the young sisters Claire-Agapè, Claire-Ancilla, Claire-Antonia, Claire-Assunta, Claire Isabelle, Claire-Pascal.

There are currently 11 Poor Claires in Hannut and 41 in Burundi, with an average age of about 35-40 years. 6 Poor Claires occupied the monastery of Cornillon from 11 August 2017 and their installation took place on Sunday 8 October 2017 in the presence of Bishop Jean-Pierre Delville.

4 The long history of the poor Claires in Liège

The people of Liège know well the ‘rue des clarisses’ in the centre. Established in Liege in 1342, it was not until 1839 that their convent was demolished and the Athénée Royal de Liège was built on its site. In 1340, three sisters had their property at their disposal to found a monastery of girls of the order of St. Clare instead of Bruxtheal. Founded by Dulle, Jeanne and Enguienne, the convent seems to have been established as early as 1342. The installation of the Poor Claires of the Franciscan Second Order was completed shortly before 1475. The Poor Claires in the Island of the Order of St. Clare left Bruges in 1604, and came to occupy a district of the Bavarian hospital. The abbess having called the rest of the community in 1605, these nuns moved near Saint-Jean-Evangéliste, then next to the collegiate church Saint-Barthélemy. In 1606, the abbot of Saint-Jacques gave them, not far from the Carmelites on the Island, a piece of land on which a convent was built. The church was built in 1608, by Henri de Berlo and Jeanne de Duras, his wife; the dedication was made in 1610 by André Streignart. The convent was sold in two lots on April 1, 1797. It was not until 1839 that the convent was demolished and the Athénée Royal de Liège was built on its site.

In addition, at the site of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Liege, inaugurated in 1895, near the Dial, at the foot of the citadel, there used to be a convent of the Claretian Urbanist Sisters. They were nuns of the Order of St. Clare, but according to the rule softened by Pope Urban IV. They came from Paris in 1488, to settle above the village of Jupille. Established later “en Royal”, i. e. rue des Anglais near the Dial, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Claire had to abandon the site definitively at the end of the 18th century, when the claustrale property was sold as a national property under the French regime in 1797. [1]

5 Why bring eggs to St. Clare?

The tradition of eggs to St. Claire consists in making an offering, originally eggs, symbol of life and fertility, in a convent of Poor Claires sisters, whose patron saint is St. Clare, and whose name has been associated with “clear weather”. Offer eggs of hope for sunshine or no rain. We immediately think of the bride and groom, who obviously want sunshine for the most beautiful day of their lives. We also think of all the people who organize outdoor events.

Taking the example of the bride and groom, the Poor Claires reminds us that the meaning of their prayers is not so much that the weather be fine on a given day. It is above all that the common life that will start be beautiful and illuminated by the sun. You can also make an offering other than eggs, knowing that it is common these days to offer “paper eggs”, i. e. money, and ask the sisters for a prayer that your wish may be granted.

 

[1] Source : http://histoiresdeliege.skynetblogs.be/tag/couvent+des+clarisses, Claude Warzée, professeur à la retraite