Readings & Reflections: Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time & Memorial of Saint Claire, August 11,2017
Of noble birth and reputed beauty, Clare heard Francis of Assisi preach a Lenten retreat in 1212 A.D. Captivated by this new witness of a life “after the manner of the holy Gospel,” Clare stole from her home on the night of Palm Sunday to join Francis. With him she co-founded the Poor Clares, establishing a first house at San Damiano. The women went barefoot, wore rough tunics, and begged for food. Saint Francis made her the head of the order of women, who devoted themselves to Eucharistic prayer and joyful poverty. It was in 1234 A.D. that Clare famously displayed the Blessed Sacrament on the convent wall as Frederick II’s army attacked. Prostrating herself, she prayed, “Good Lord, I beg you: defend those I cannot protect.” When Clare raised the ciborium, the soldiers scattered. In imitation of Christ, Clare desired to be the servant of all. “Do what you want with me,” she told her sisters; “I am yours because my will is no longer my own. I have given it to God.” For the next forty years she lived in a convent attached to the church of San Damiano, leading the young women who joined her, the first Poor Clares. When Innocent IV composed a rule for her nuns that permitted them to receive an annual living, Clare responded with her own stricter version, the first women’s rule written by a woman. She died in 1253 A.D. with the approved rule in her hand and was canonized only two years later.