There is a church, chapel, shrine or monastery in just about every corner of Metro Manila. Each one of them has a distinct feature and for the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara, it is the egg offerings the monastery gets.
By Vanitha Nadaraj MARCH 30, 2023
A friend living in Metro Manila says that each time she needed to sit for a difficult exam, she would go to the Monasterio de Santa Clara and submit her petition along with a dozen eggs as offering. And she always passed.
I decided to see this monastery for myself when I was in Manila a few months ago. The first thing I noticed as I approached the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara were the eggs. A dozen of them packed in colourful transparent cellophane wraps being sold by vendors just outside the entrance at the busy and noisy Katipunan Avenue. I got myself the ones in a green wrap.
Only after buying did I realise that the colours denoted the different petition categories – blue for exams, orange for business, yellow for health, red for travel and work, pink for love, life and family, and green was for finance. No harm in asking for more money.
Once I passed the entrance and headed to the guardhouse to write down my petition, a sense of calmness and peace came all over me. I also realised that the noise from the traffic and vendors seemed to have muted. There was a meditate sort of silence all over. People walked about silently, stopping and praying at the statue of St Clare of Assisi. She founded the Order of St Clare (or Poor Clares), the religious order that is running the monastery.
The Poor Clares were the first contemplative nuns who arrived in the Philippines and theirs is a life of contemplation, penance, poverty, and enclosure. They are called Real Monasterio or Royal Monastery because Spanish nun Venerable Jeronima of the Assumption was authorised by the King of Spain to set up a monastery there, which she did.
The monastery was founded in 1621, more than 400 years ago, but it was first located in Intramuros, the walled city. This is where the Spaniard’s administrative and religious centre. Over the years, the monastery moved to a couple of other locations – once, to escape an attack during the British occupation; and then after the Americans bombed their monastery during WWII. Then, they moved to their present location in Katipunan.
I walked about the grounds, admiring the well-manicured landscape and the peace that had blanketed the whole place. I wanted to sit there all day but had to leave for a meet-up with friends.
So what happens to the hundreds of eggs they get each day? Apparently, the Poor Clares give them to the poor.