Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Year of Mercy, beginning Dec. 8, 2015, and ending Nov. 20, 2016. In addition to designating shrines within the St. Cloud Diocese as places of pilgrimage, Bishop Donald Kettler has encouraged parishioners to pray with the diocese’s religious communities during this Holy Year of Mercy.
The Visitor introduced a pilgrimage passport to encourage people to participate in this jubilee. The passport may be downloaded at http://stcloudvisitor.org/year-of-mercy. This is the second religious community to be featured. The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls were spotlighted in the March 25 edition.
St. Clare’s Monastery is the home of the Poor Clare cloistered contemplative religious community. The Poor Clares were invited to the diocese by Bishop Joseph Busch on May 3, 1923, and the sisters moved into a newly constructed monastery July 16, 1924.
Where is the chapel located?
The monastery is located at 421 S. 4th St. in Sauk Rapids. It is on the hill overlooking Speltz House, the retirement apartments for priests of the diocese, and just above the former Sacred Heart School and playground.
After entering through the glass door of the main entrance, turn right and pass through the Holy Door. The certificate of designation from Bishop Donald Kettler hangs on the brick wall to the right of the holy water font (just right of the Holy Door.)
What are the important features of the chapel?
The chapel is one long room with a vaulted ceiling, divided by a “reredos,” a wooden “screen” about halfway to the ceiling. The altar for Holy Mass faces sideways, toward St. Anne’s Oratory where the cloistered Poor Clare nuns are able to participate in Mass. This small room is separated from the main chapel by a wooden “grate” which is opened only for Mass or retreat conferences.
The public chapel is named for St. Bartholomew in honor of a former chaplain. On the front of the ambo [lectern] is a large picture of the Divine Mercy image, here for the Year of Mercy, though otherwise on the wall to the right of the sanctuary. Large statues of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. Clare grace the public chapel. On the west end above the candelabra (a votive candle stand) is a large stained glass window depicting Christ’s crucifixion, with his precious blood giving relief to the holy souls in purgatory.
The early sisters had a great devotion to the holy souls and the cloistered chapel is dedicated to them. That chapel, though unseen by the public, is where the Poor Clare community gathers seven times a day for the Liturgy of the Hours and eucharistic adoration. As prayer is the primary devotion of the sisters, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in this room is the heart of their house and the center of their lives.
What to do when you visit:
The chapel door opens to the public about 6:30 a.m., and is open until about 5 p.m. daily. All are welcome. The public chapel can comfortably hold about 30 people and has been known to stretch to 60 or 70.
- Holy Mass is celebrated every day (including Saturday and Sunday) at 7 a.m.
- The sisters also invite others to join them as they pray the rosary daily at about 11:15 a.m., for the Divine Office — 10 minutes after Mass, at 11 a.m., and at 1:30 p.m. or for vespers at 4 p.m.
- The Divine Mercy Chaplet is usually prayed the last Sunday of each month; check The Visitor calendar for details.
Prayer requests may be sent by mail, brought to the door or called in at 320-251-3556. A message may be left on the answering machine.