St. Clare of Assisi (1193-1253) was born of a noble family, twelve years after the birth of her famous townsman St. Francis, who had a major influence on her life. At the age of eighteen, Clare left home secretly and, with Francis’ help, arranged to reside in a Benedictine convent. Her family’s attempts to persuade her to return home were unsuccessful, and eventually she was joined by her sister (St. Agnes) and later by her widowed mother.
St. Francis established the three of them as the nucleus of a religious community for women and drew up a “way of life” for them, thus establishing the Order which became known as the “Poor Clares.” In 1215 Pope Innocent III granted the Order the “privilege of property”: permission to live wholly on alms, without any personal or communal property or revenue whatever. (This was a privilege Clare later had to defend against good-intentioned Church officials worried about the community’s well-being.)
Clare was known as a great contemplative, and she provided able leadership for her community for some forty years. In spite of her own austere lifestyle, she urged others not to overdo their acts of penance, for “our bodies are not made of brass.”
Clare had a deep spiritual friendship with St. Francis, whom she outlived by twenty-seven years. On her deathbed, Clare was heard to say to herself, “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He Who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be You, my God, for having created me.”
From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day
“[Jesus Christ] is the splendor of eternal glory, the brightness of eternal light, and the mirror without cloud. Queen and bride of Jesus Christ, look into that mirror daily and study well your reflection, that you may adorn yourself, mind and body, with an enveloping garment of every virtue, and thus find yourself attired in flowers and gowns befitting the daughter and most chaste bride of the king on high.”
— From a letter of St. Clare of Assisi
When I look into this “mirror,” which virtues do I see reflected? In what ways can I live them out today, and in what way can I add one or two more?
Other Saints We Remember Today
- Sts. Tiburtius & Susanna (295), Martyrs
- St. Philomena (304), Virgin, Martyr, “The Wonder-Worker”