(1194 – 1253)
Ordinary Time: August 12th
The Breviary says of her: "Following the example of St. Francis, she
distributed all her possessions among the poor. She fled from the
noise of the world and betook herself to a country chapel, where St.
Francis himself sheared off her hair and clothed her with a
penitential garb (on March 18, 1212, at the age of eighteen). Then
she resided at the Church of St. Damian, where the Lord provided for
her a goodly number of companions. So she established a community of
nuns and acted as their superior at the wish of St Francis. For
forty-two years she directed the nunnery with zeal and prudence, her
own life serving as a constant sermon for her sisters to emulate. Of
Pope Innocent IV, she requested the privilege that she and her
community live in absolute poverty. She was a most perfect follower
of St. Francis of Assisi.
"When the Saracens were besieging Assisi and were preparing to
attack the convent, St. Clare asked to be assisted as far as the
entrance, for she was ill. In her hand, she carried a vessel
containing the blessed Eucharist as she prayed: O Lord, do not
deliver over to beasts the souls that praise You! (Ps. 73). Protect
Your servants, for You have redeemed them by Your precious Blood.
And in the midst of that prayer, a voice was heard, saying: Always
will I protect you ! The Saracens took to flight."
Heroic in suffering (she was sick for twenty-seven years), she was
canonized only two years after her death. Thomas of Celano coined
the saying: Clara nomine, vita clarior, clarissima moribus.
Clare was the first flower in the garden of the Poor Man of Assisi.
Poor in earthly goods, but rich in her utter poverty, she was a
replica of Jesus, poor in the crib and on the Cross. At her time,
the Church generally and many Church men were enmeshed in financial
matters and political maneuvering. Through the renewal of the ideal
of poverty, St. Francis effected a "reform of Christian life in head
In our twentieth first century, there still remain large areas with
millions suffering under extreme poverty. Poverty in itself is no
virtue; but it should be made into a virtue. Let us recall a few of
the examples and texts from holy Scripture, which show how precious
poverty is and what deep reverence we should have toward it. Christ
was poor. His entrance into the world and His departure from it took
place in circumstances of greatest need. He had no house wherein to
be born, no crib; no house wherein to die, no deathbed. Poverty
stood watch at birth and remained to see His death. "The foxes have
dens and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has
nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 3:20).
At least, we can be moderate and frugal, and, thereby, find the way
to the spirit of Christian poverty. St. Clare, help us.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch