It’s a hugely important day in the Franciscan calendar: the feast of Clare of Assisi, founder of the Order of Poor Ladies (popularly known as the “Poor Clares”).
Clare is still loved and valued for her profound spiritual insight. She was the first woman to write a Rule for a Religious Order, and it stands out today for its kindness and practicality. She also wrote the most beautiful letters, perhaps the most famous one containing this remarkable advice to Agnes of Prague: “Place your mind before the mirror of eternity. Place your soul in the brilliance of glory. Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance”.
Her life story is a remarkable one. Chiara Offreduccio was born in 1194 into privilege, the daughter of the Count of Sasso-Rosso. The family had a palace in Assisi and a castle on Mount Subasio. The young Clare was deeply devout and would undoubtedly have been intrigued by the sight of Giovanni “Francesco” di Bernardone, the son of a local cloth merchant who had renounced his family’s wealth and was living the life of a “brother of penance”. At the age of 18 she heard him preach and her life changed. On Palm Sunday 1212 she committed herself to a life of prayer and poverty. She would have happily joined with Francis and the Brothers in their ministry but medieval Umbria wasn’t quite ready for that. Instead she embraced the life of a contemplative, founding a community for women at San Damiano. She died there on August 11th 1253.
SSF and CSF particularly uphold our OSC Sisters at Freeland in Oxfordshire on this special day.
“Always be lovers of God and your souls and the souls of your Sisters, and always be eager to observe what you have promised the Lord. May the Lord be with you always and, wherever you are, may you be with Him always. Amen.”