August 11 is the feast of a familiar saint, Clare of Assisi. I know her well. We have a beautiful engraving of St. Clare hanging in the small chapel of the NET, where I work, and visitors are often surprised when I explain that she’s the patron saint of television. They stare at me blankly and mutter a confused “Huh? Really? Why?”
As ZENIT explained a couple years ago:
She was given this title by Pope Pius XII on Feb. 14, 1958. On Christmas night, 1252, the nun received the grace of seeing from her cell the Church’s celebration of Christ’s birth.
Cardinal Bertone dubbed it “an experience of mystical television,” Vatican Radio reported.
“St. Clare is not only the patron of television, but she can also teach us the correct use of this media,” the cardinal said.
Citing Benedict XVI’s message for World Communications Day, Cardinal Bertone warned about the possibility of communications media manipulating reality, catering to particular interests and seeking an audience at all costs.
“Mass media tend to impose a uniform cultural model, based on the logic of consumerism and relativism,” he lamented. “The example of St. Clare, on the other hand, helps us to rediscover the dignity of the person and values such as family, life, education and youth.”
Personally, much as I feel a certain kinship to Clare — by happy coincidence, that was also my mother’s name — I’m partial to another (unofficial) patron for communications, Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that television would have one patron whose name means “clear” — and that it may one day have another whose name means “shine.”