NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu.

~ Peter, Ministry & Blog Administrator

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Saint of the Month, April 2021: Maria Dominica Clara of the Holy Cross

The Servant of God
Maria Dominica Clara of the Holy Cross
A Victim Soul for the Priesthood

Mother Maria Dominica Clara Moes is a great spiritual figure who I'd bet most people don't know about, including Catholics, but I'd like to change that - at least in some small way through this blog.  Her biography is not just fascinating because of the rich mysticism this nun lived, but it's also quite edifying because she was a proven virtuous soul; exemplary enough for the Church to open an investigation into her life for possible sainthood.  So who was this hidden gem of a mystic, born Anna Moes in Bous, Luxembourg?

Anna came into this world on October 27, 1832.  Remarkably, immediately after her baptism on the day after her birth, she claims to have been gifted with the full use of her reason and could understand what was going on around her despite just being a baby.  Now this isn't really unique, at all, since there were a few other mystics who supposedly received this extremely rare grace, most notably the great visionary-stigmatic, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich (d. 1824), with whom Anna Moes' life shared a lot of similarities.  Both were destined to be victim souls, whose voluntary sufferings were offered to God to ward off dangers facing the Church.  In the latter's case, her apparent mission included praying and expiating for the sanctification of priests, and it entailed a lot of suffering.

One other spiritual favor Anna received in infancy was the ability to see and interact with her guardian angel, as well as other holy angels, on an almost continual basis.  As such, she developed a very strong devotion to these heavenly messengers.  Again, not a unique grace in the lives of prime-level mystics, as there were several in Church history who were closely bonded to their guardian angels (e.g. St. Lydwina of Scheidam, St. Frances of Rome, Gemma Galgani, etc.)... but this is how Anna described her personal experiences with angels to one of her confessors:

  "Love and veneration of the Holy Angels had already been placed in my heart since my childhood, but with growing in age, it reached an ever higher degree.  My devotion to them was continuous, because there are very few moments when I do not think or talk to them... How can I not love and venerate the Holy Angels who have done so much for me and continue to dedicate such tender love to me!"

The angel's influence on Anna was intimate and powerful - at just age 6 he showed his young protege a heart encircled with thorns, and prophesied this to her:

  "Fear not, dear daughter, the Divine Savior chose you to participate in a special way in the sufferings bestowed upon him by wicked men in his Holy Church, upon which great and continuous tribulations will ensue!  Hell will rise with all its might to the point where the children of the Church, themselves, rebel against it and pursue to the extreme... but the Lord of armies will crush them.  Go, my dear daughter - for all this, the Divine Savior seeks comfort and help in you.  He'll send you many great tribulations, but he'll never deny you his help.  It is his holy will that you offer all your sufferings for the intention for which he has chosen you.  His Sacred Heart will be your perpetual refuge..."

Anna's angel then led her to the foot of the altar in the local church where the girl pronounced a vow of virginity and voluntarily offered herself, wholeheartedly, to God, to which her guardian angel solemnly responded: "Now, my child, you have entered the school of suffering that you will not abandon until your soul is brought by the angels to the throne of God, to be crowned there by your Heavenly Bridegroom."  From that moment on, Anna was plagued with poor health but her mystical experiences escalated:

  • At age 9, she celebrated her First Holy Communion and received a revelation from God that it was his will for her to reestablish the Dominican Order in Luxembourg
  • In addition to seeing her guardian angel from her earliest childhood, she received visits from the Holy Mother of Christ who favored her with signal blessings, such as purity of soul and help against demonic assaults
  • In 1850, at the age of 18, she underwent the lofty grace of Mystical Marriage to Christ
  • Among her other charisms were Ecstasies, Visions, Mystical Communions from the hands of angels, visits from Purgatorial Souls... and the Stigmata, which appeared to bleed only on Fridays and, which Anna managed to successfully hide for a period of time

In 1861, at age 29, the Lord's commission to Anna concerning a Dominican monastery in Luxembourg was finally initiated by her and a few like-minded friends in the region of Limpertsberg.  It was a rocky start, made more difficult by the physical harassment of the devil against the foundress... but the small group persevered, and the establishment thrived and was eventually affiliated with the Dominican Order in 1884.  Anna, by then, was the elected Prioress and had taken the religious name of Maria Dominica Clara of the Holy Cross (referred to as "Mo. Dominica" from here on).

Despite her success in establishing the monastery, it wasn't the end of the mystic's trials - others followed.  Mo. Dominica, in her humility, had made an earnest effort to hide her supernatural gifts from the community, but the visible nature of the ecstasies and the Stigmata, simply made it impossible to do so indefinitely.  A few of the nuns, perhaps either through jealousy or misunderstanding, suspected the foundress of fanaticism, or worse yet - outright fraud - and even gossiped maliciously about her to the townspeople so the unusual occurrences in the monastery became common knowledge; skeptics took to publicly ridiculing Dominica, going so far as to obscenely parody her stigmata during a local festival.

When word reached the ecclesiastic authorities of the superior's alleged misdeeds, a lengthy investigation was launched into the matter.  Mo. Dominica was subjected to intense scrutiny, as well as commanded to document her remarkable experiences, to be reviewed by her investigators.  The nun obeyed, but the order pained her all the more because she loathed being considered as privileged in any way because of her extraordinary mysticism.  At the end of it all, the judgement pronounced was in her favor and Mo. Dominica was vindicated, which further boosts her credibility as a genuine instrument of God.

The grave of Mo. Dominica Clara in Limpertsberg.

In spite of being cleared of any wrong doing, the Prioress did not rest on her laurels.  She continued to lead her community with humility, practicality, and piety.  The wondrous manifestations continued but Dominica still tried to hide or dismiss them (e.g. except for a couple of trusted confidants, she forbade anyone from coming into her cell when the stigmata were active then personally washed the linens stained with blood from her wounds); insisting that her nuns not place their focus on the supernatural.  Instead, she advised them in this manner:

  "God demands solid virtue from us and will not have a Sister fix her heart upon a soul because it is visited by ecstasy...  To see a person receive Holy Communion in an ecstasy does not justify one in priding oneself upon it.  It is true and remains true that only genuine virtue makes a person holy...  One single humiliation counts more before God than ecstasies and miracles, were these ever so numerous."

After spending decades praying and sacrificing for the needs of the Church, especially for priests, the prodigious life of Maria Dominica Clara of the Holy Cross ended on February 24, 1895 - she was 62-years-old.  As of this writing, this author believes her Cause for Sainthood is still active... so let us pray together for this saintly Dominican's speedy Canonization.

Mother Maria Dominica Clara, pray for us!

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