CLARE OF ASSISI
1194 - 1293
"Go forward securely, joyfully, and swiftly on the path
of prudent happiness, so that nothing prevents you from offering
yourself to the Most High."
Born into a noble family in 1193, Clare’s young life was marked by civil war in Assisi.
At the tender age of 5, she had to flee with her family to neighboring Perugia
until a truce was declared between the two cities, and stability returned to Assisi. Being
exposed to political violence at an early age had a deep impact upon her, as did the faith and
devotion of her mother. Aware of the new reform movement begun by Francis, Clare became
an early supporter, contributing to the rebuilding of churches in the valley below Assisi and
increasingly drawn to joining the movement herself. Shortly after Francis and the early
brothers received official approval from Innocent III, Clare slipped away from her family home
and consecrated herself to God, gradually moving into a dormitory attached to the church of
San Damiano outside the city walls of Assisi. Several female relatives joined her in this
movement, facing strong resistance and opposition from the rest of the family.
Clare’s resolute commitment to simplicity of life, poverty, humility, and deep love of God and
neighbor bore fruit in a thriving community that became known as the Poor Ladies, spreading
through Italy and even into Bohemia when Agnes of Prague, a member of the Bohemian royal
family founded a community there. Clare’s letters to Agnes, preserved through the centuries,
are a poignant witness to Clare’s intense spirituality, her manner of life, and the ways that she
taught and mentored the women in her care. Her ongoing commitment to be of spiritual
support to Francis and her commitment to the radical poverty that he, too, embodied Clare
wrote her own monastic rule (Form of Life), and even engaged a hunger strike to ensure that
her sisters could live in fundamental solidarity with the poor, without an endowment to
support the religious community. Her profoundly incarnational spirituality led her to recognize
and model the sovereignty of human dignity. Through her life and teachings, she introduces a
new contemplative tradition that integrates deep investment in the lives and challenges of
others with the empowering love of God in order to form communities of solidarity and
resistance to the forces that dehumanize us.
desiring to imitate Your Spouse."
"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
And, through contemplation,
Transform your entire being into the image
of the Godhead Itself,
so that you, too, may feel what friends feel
in tasting the hidden sweetness
that from the beginning,
God has reserved for all who love God wholeheartedly."
"What you hold, may you always hold.
What you do, may you do and not stop.
But with swift pace, light step, unswerving feet,
So that even your steps stir up no dust,
May you go forward
Securely, joyfully, and swiftly,
On the path of prudent happiness,
Agreeing with nothing
That would dissuade you from this commitment
Or would place a stumbling block for you on the way,
So that nothing prevents you from offering
Your vows to the Most High in the perfection
To which the Spirit of God has called you."
Francis and Clare: A Rich Legacy
Gaze, Consider, Contemplate, Imitate