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Monsignor Claes

In February 1928, Monsignor Claes came to Wishaw as Parish Priest in succession to his great friend, Father Van Hecke.

Born at Courtrai, in Belgium on 29th August 1875 and educated at St. Peter ' s College Beardsen, he was ordained on 19th March 1899. After serving as a curate in Lambhill, he was an assistant at Our Lady and St. Anne ' s in Cadzow and later served as chaplain to the Franciscan Convent at Elmwood in Bothwell before becoming Professor at St. Peter ' s College in 1907. He spent most of his time training the future priests of the Archdiocese. All who knew him, recognised him as a priest of many gifts, of piety and of great learning.

When the students were called to the forces in the First World War, he volunteered as a chaplain with the army. He resumed his duties as Professor after the war and in 1923, he was made a Privy Chamberlain to His Holiness Pope Pius XI and then took up a post as Chaplain to Notre Dame Training College in Dowanhill. He became Parish Priest of St. Bridget ' s, Baillieston in 1926 and was transferred to Wishaw on the death of his friend in 1928. Alas he was in failing health and resided here only a few short months.

He died at the little Convent of Mercy in Wemyss Bay in the early hours of 17th November 1928 and was buried from St. Ignatius church with full military honours..

A fellow professor described him as follows: "Thoroughness and zeal penetratedand characterised his whole life; efficiency stamped every undertaking. A man of such high attainment and breadth of interest as to be rightly styled a genius. Above all he was a priest and a truly spiritual man..For him the great truths of Revelation had long since become living and intimate principles of his daily life."

His last will and testament opened thus, "I render my soul to the Almighty God, its Creator, to whom by nature it aspires. I consign my body to the dust whence it came; I commend myself to the prayers and protection of the Immaculate Mother of God, to St. Joseph, to my Guardian Angel and to my Patron Saints. I forgive any who have injured me and humbly ask forgiveness of any whom in my life I may have injured."

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