She professed her simple vows, with the words, “Alone at the feet of my Crucified Lord, I looked at him for a long time, and as I looked I saw that he was my whole life”.
Blessed Elia of St Clement Born in Bari, Italy on January 17, 1901 to deeply devout parents; the third of nine children, four of which died in infancy. At her baptism four days later, she was given the name Theodora, ‘gift of God’.
On May 11, 1911 at the age of 10, she received her First Communion. The night before she dreamt of St. Therese of the Child Jesus who predicted to her: “you will be a nun like me”. She eventually entered the Association of the Blessed Imelda Lambertini, a Dominican nun, and afterwards joined the ‘Angelic Army’ of St. Thomas Aquinas.
She received a good religious education. She also had a great devotion to the Eucharist and prayer, which she practised together with a group of friends. She liked to read the lives of the saints, particularly the life of St Therese of Lisieux (The Story of a Soul).
Her spiritual director, Fr. Peter Fiorillo, O.P. introduced her to the Third Order Dominicans who accepted her as a Novice on April 20, 1914, and she made her profession on May 14, 1915. At the end of 1917 Theodora sought advice from a Jesuit priest, Fr. Sergio Di Gioia who became her new confessor. About a year later, he directed her and her friend Clare Bellomi to the Carmel of St. Joseph, Via De Rosi, in Bari.
Theodora entered the Carmelite Community of St. Joseph in Bari on April 8, 1920 (then the feast day of St. Albert, author of the Carmelite Rule) and was clothed in the Habit on November 14th – The Feast of St. John of the Cross, of the same year taking the name of Sister Elisha of St. Clement. She made her simple vows on December 4, 1921 and her solemn profession on February 11, 1925. In 1927 she was appointed sacristan. In January 1927 she was greatly weakened by a bad influenza and started to suffer from frequent headaches but suffered with them without taking any medication.
On December 21 of the same year, she began to have a high fever and on the 24th the doctor was summoned who diagnosed her with possible meningitis or encephalitis, but did not consider it to be serious. The next morning however, on Christmas day two other doctors were called to her bedside, and who declared her condition irreversible. Sister Elisha of St. Clement died at noon on December 25, 1927. She was proclaimed Blessed on March 18, 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Office of Readings
From the Common of Virgins.
From the Writings of Blessed Elia of Saint Clement
(Ed. O.C.D. 2001: pp. 282, 295, 322).
The desire to lose herself in God and her apostolic zeal
Oh sweet hiddenness, I love to pass my days in your shadow and to consume thus my existence, for love of my sweet Lord. At times, thinking of those eternal rewards, so great compared to the slight sacrifices of this life, my soul remains in wonder, and seized by an ardent longing, it throws itself on God, exclaiming: “Oh my good Jesus, I want to reach my goal, the gates of salvation, no matter what the cost. Do not deny me anything; give me suffering. May this be the most intimate martyrdom of my poor heart, hidden from every human glance: a rugged cross is what I ask of you. I want to pass my days here below hanging from this cross”.
When we suffer with Jesus, the suffering is delightful; I long to suffer with all my heart, beyond this I no longer want anything.
My Delight, who could ever separate me from You? Who could be capable of breaking these strong chains that keep my heart attached to yours? Perhaps the abandonment of creatures? It is precisely this that unites the soul to its Creator. Perhaps tribulations, suffering, crosses? It is in these thorns that the canticle of the soul that loves you is freest and lightest. Perhaps death? But this will be nothing other than the beginning of true happiness for the soul. Nothing, nothing can separate this soul from You, not even for a brief moment. It was created for You and is lost if it does not abandon itself to You.
My life is love: this sweet nectar surrounds me, this merciful love penetrates me, purifies me, renews me and I feel it consuming me. The cry of my heart is: “Love of my God, my soul searches for You alone. My soul, suffer and be quiet; love and hope; offer yourself but hide your suffering behind a smile, and always move on. I want to spend my life in deep silence, in the depths of my heart, in order to listen to the gentle voice of my sweet Jesus.
“Souls, I will search for a way to cast you into the sea of Merciful Love: souls of sinners, but above all souls of priests and religious. To this end my existence is slowly disappearing, consumed like the oil of a lamp that watches near the Tabernacle.” I sense the vastness of my soul, its infinite greatness that the immensity of this world cannot contain: it was created to lose itself in You, my God, because you alone are great, infinite and thus You alone can make it completely happy.
Response (from the Common of Virgins) I Cor 7:34, Ps 72:26
R/. An unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs.
* Her aim is to be dedicated to him in body as in spirit.
V/. God is the strength of her heart, he is hers forever:
R/. Her aim is to be dedicated to him in body as in spirit.
Canticle of Zechariah
Oh Lord, how gentle is your love! Lost in your embrace I shall be blessed for ever.
Canticle of Mary:
Your love, oh Lord, is like a fire consuming me in the ardent furnace of your Heart.
Oh Lord, who were pleased to accept the self offering of Blessed Elia of Saint Clement, virgin; grant through her intercession, that, sustained by the Eucharist we may be able faithfully to do your will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.