The Woman Clare
Clare was a medieval woman born into a rich and powerful family dominated by values of the nobility and of knightly exploits in war and battle. In 13th century Italy, her destiny, while still a child, was defined for her by the men who ruled the clan. She would be married to a man of their choosing, someone whose assets and social standing would make the family even more powerful. Her own wishes were considered irrelevant. Clare upset all these plans. …
She was indeed the daughter of a knight, with strength of character and courage beyond her years; she could never be satisfied with half-measures. From early childhood and under the guidance of her saintly mother, she nurtured the desire to give herself totally to the love of Jesus. Clare’s meeting Francis, listening and observing him, was the catalyst that unleashed the passionate desire that was within her own heart. At last Clare came to recognize the meaning of the call that had been drawing her with deeper and deeper insistence over many years. With heroism and absolute determination, Clare sold her inheritance, gave it to the poor, and at the age of eighteen, secretly escaped from her parental home.
After being received by Francis and his brothers to follow in his way of poverty, Clare lived for forty- two years with her sisters in the small enclosure of San Damiano in Assisi. They devoted themselves to a life of prayer, enduring many hardships. Yet her wisdom and holiness were recognized far and wide, and many came to her to recommend themselves to her prayer.
To look intently at Clare’s manner of living shows us a strong woman who knew how to wait, to trust and to live out of the certitude of her own dignity and worth without the immediate approval of others – be they family, or leaders of Church and State. Clare never deviated from her initial resolve to live every moment of her life as a personal love-relationship with Christ. This was her great secret, the source of her strength and her passion. It is the legacy and call she leaves to all her followers today.