Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, celebrated Mass for the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary last month to mark the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clares.
In his homily Cardinal O’Brien said: “I know that the celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of the Foundation of the Poor Clares have already begun – but I am delighted to be here with you this morning, realising that to mark this significant anniversary the Poor Clare Sisters throughout the world are having a year of celebrations.
“Our celebrations here in this archdiocese take place as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of Our Blessed Lady – what better way can we have of celebrating the anniversary than thinking of that wonderful event in the life of Mary when she showed such charity to her cousin, Elizabeth, with each of them carrying a child in their womb?
“The vestments which I am wearing today are those which I wore at various archdiocesan and national celebrations during that wonderful year 2000, that year when we celebrated the great jubilee of our salvation. At that time, our late Holy Father, Blessed John Paul II, called on the churches of the world to celebrate their own jubilees – each a reflection of the jubilee year then being celebrated. In Scotland around that time we had very many wonderful celebrations: the 900th anniversary of the death of St Margaret, Queen and Patroness of Scotland; the 1,600th Anniversary of St Ninian, the first apostle of Scotland; and the 1,400th anniversary of St Columba of Iona. I see this jubilee year of 2012, the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the Poor Clare communities, as being a reflection of those celebrations which we had to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ just some 12 years ago.
“I hesitate to say much about the life of St Clare of Assisi here in this gathering – with Poor Clare Sisters not only from Humbie, but also from Lynton in Devon and four of our Poor Clare Sisters from Bothwell, who recently had their own public celebrations of the 800th anniversary, along with Bishop Devine.”