The church of San Damiano, outside the city walls, is indelibly linked to the "revolution of tenderness" that Francis and Clare began. I like to think of it as the cradle of their reform movement. It was here, in as early as 1205, that Francis spent time before the crucifix, praying his searing:
Enlighten the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith, certain hope and perfect love,
with deep humility, wisdom and understanding,
that I may know and do Your most holy will.
and gradually understood God to be asking him to “rebuild my home.” This is where Clare and the community of Poor Ladies settled as the movement grew. This is where Francis returned to recover after his forty days of prayer and fasting culminating in the stigmata at La Verna. This is where he wrote his famous Canticle of the Creatures, which so deeply inspired Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. This is where Clare spent forty years of her life, praying and providing necessary gravity to the apostolic work of the Franciscan movement with her contemplative life, which we can glimpse through her letters to Agnes of Prague and the witness of her sisters in community, the Poor Ladies. The entire Franciscan story derives its deepest roots from this place, living roots that give us insight into the vital core of a love capable of grounding a revolution of tenderness.