Clement (c. 1235 - 1291), is called Osimo, after his place of birth in Italy, or else called Clement of Sant' Elpidio, after the place where he joined the Order of St Augustine.
He was in charge of the Augustinian Province of the Marches of Ancona in 1269. It is likely that he already belonged to the Congregation of Hermits of Brettino (the Brettini) when this group joined with several others to form the Augustinian Order at the Grand Union in 1256. This was the geographical region of the Augustinian Order which produced Saint Nicholas of Tolentino. On Pentecost Sunday 1271, Clement was elected the third Prior General of the Order of Sant Augustine. During his term of office he visited many houses of the Augustinian Order, not only in Italy but also in France. He participated in the Second Council of Lyons in 1274, which gave the Order a fear of suppression in the following decades. At the general chapter held that same year he resigned from office.
In 1284, however, he was once again elected Prior General and continued as such until his death in 1291. This is the only case in medieval Augustinian history of anyone's being re-elected as Prior General of the Order after spending an interval out of office. It was at the chapter of 1284 that Clement was given the task of overseeing a revision of the Augustinian Order's Constitutions, or book of laws. In this task he relied on the assistance of Blessed Augustine of Tarano O.S.A., with whom his name has been associated ever since. The results of their combined efforts were the Constitutions of Ratisbon, (a town now called Regensburg, Germany) which guided the Augustinian Order in its legislation until the Council of Trent in 1545-1563. Clement was a great promoter of studies in the Augustinian Order, and did much to foster a spirit of unity and universality among the still newly united congregations.
He paid attention to the studium generale (international house for Augustinians taking higher studies) in Paris, having to establish rules for admission in response to an excess in the number of applications that could then be accepted. To alleviate this lack of Augustinian space in Paris, he purchased the second site of the three locations that the studium generale occupied in its five centuries of existence. This site was inside the walls near the monastery of Saint Victor. He also was Prior General who was in office when in 1272 land was donated for the first community of Augustinians at San Gimignano, a site at Racciano about five kilometres away from their second site atop the old city walls, where Augustinians still live. Clement wrote to the Tuscan benefactor a letter of thanks, which still exists.
He was described thus by Henry of Friemar, a contemporary Augustinian who knew Clement personally: "[Clement was] a man of admirable clemency, piety, prudence, and holiness of life through whom God worked many miracles in the chapter of Ratisbon, at which I was present." He was noted for his moderate style of exercising authority. The author known simply as the Anonymous Florentine (who was probably the Augustinian Prior of Santo Spirito in Florence about the year 1336) claimed that Clement undertook his travels by foot. This would have meant that he walked from Rome to Lyons and back in 1274, and from Rome to Ratisbon (Regensberg, Germany) and back in 1290. On both occasions en route, he would have visited numerous Augustinian houses. When also including shorter visits he undoubtedly made to Augustinian communities in many parts of Italy, it is possible to state that Clement travelled more than any of the other Augustinian Priors General in the Order's first hundred years.
Clement died at Orvieto on 8th April 1291. The fame of his sanctity and the extraordinary numbers of people who came to pay their respects caused Pope Nicholas IV to order that his funeral be delayed for several weeks so that people could come and pay their final respects. About the death of Clement of Osimo, Henry of Friemar O.S.A. wrote, "As in life so at his death, which occurred at Orvieto, and in the presence of the papal curia and all the cardinals, in the time of Pope Nicholas IV, he became well known for his great miracles. Because of the miracles, he was not buried for many weeks by order of the pope, so people could pay their last respects. So large a multitude came thronging to view the extraordinary body, and the press of the people was so great that the government of Orvieto decided to demolish many houses, in order to widen the street and give better access for the crowd that sought to go to the house of the Augustinians. Although the weather was very warm, the body gave forth no odour of corruption but rather a sweet fragrance, as attested to by the lord cardinal Benedict, who had Clement as his confessor and, out of devotion, paid many visits to the body. He later became Pope Boniface VIII." The cultus (the formal process for declaration as a saint) of Clement of Osimo began at once. In the seven and a half centuries of the history of the Order of Saint Augustine, there is no other example of a superior whose holy nature was proclaimed, as in the case of Clement, in the official chapter records of the Order. The members of the three general chapters following Clement's death called him a "saint", and recalled his memory as a legislator of the Order, particularly in his work with the Constitutions of Ratisbon. It is not possible to explain why it was not until 1759 that the cultus of Clement was officially conveyed by the Order to the Holy See, and approved in 1761. The body of Blessed Clement was moved to the Church of Saint Augustine in Rome at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and then on 4th May 1970 it was solemnly placed in the chapel (cappella) of the Augustinian General Curia in Rome.
The Augustinian family celebrates his feast on 19th May, together with Blessed Augustine of Tarano (a.k.a. Agostino Novello). The lifespan and location of Clement of Osimo much overlapped that of the first officially declared saint of the Order of Saint Augustine, Nicholas of Tolentino. Most probably these two Augustinians knew one another personally, for Clement was the provincial superior of Nicholas from 1266 to 1271, and immediately after that was his Prior General. As Prior General Clement had visited Augustinian houses as far afield as France, hence it is highly probable that between 1272 and 1274 he visited his area of origin and former ministry, the Province of the Marches of Ancona. Clement died at Orvieto in that area in 1291, and Nicholas fourteen years later at Tolentine in 1305. Photo gallery
For images of the shrine of St Nicholas of Tolentino O.S.A. (mentioned above), click here.AN4321