What would you say is the outstanding quality of true friendship? Is it loyalty? having the same goals, the same values? the ability to help each other become the best person possible? being comfortable together so that no one has to put on an act? Clare and Francis of Assisi had a friendship that reflected all these qualities, but they had something more: their deep love of Jesus, which made them want to live according to the Gospel.
Clare was born of a wealthy family in Assisi, Italy. As a teenager she became aware that Francis, the handsome, wealthy leader of youth in Assisi, had greatly changed. He used to spend a great deal of money having a good time. Now he had no money, no possessions, no family. He dressed in a brown robe, begged for food, and lived on the streets. Yet Francis seemed to enjoy life more than ever.
Gradually Clare saw that the source of his joy and inner peace was his living in poverty like Jesus. In 1211 Clare left home to join Francis. He cut off her long hair, gave her a rough woolen habit to wear, and took her to stay for a while with the Benedictine sisters. When he found a little house near San Damiano Church, he moved Clare and other women who had joined her into this little place and guided her in beginning a new religious order. Her sister and mother joined her. Clare did not leave this convent, yet she became known all over. People devoted to Christ attract others. It is the Christ in these people that we see.
Clare’s community wanted to live according to the rule of Francis. They slept on the floor each night, went barefoot, kept silence much of the day, ate no meat, and spent hours in prayer. They ate donated food because they had no money.
Clare became abbess, the head of this community and held this position for forty-two years. As abbess, Clare eagerly chose the hardest work for herself and inspired the others to trust in God.
In 1240 and again in 1241 the convent and the whole city were threatened by an invasion of the Saracens. Panic spread. Clare told her Sisters not to be afraid but to trust in Jesus. She prayed to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to save his people. Both times the convent and the whole city were spared.
Clare died after twenty-seven years of illness. Her community still exists today. The Sisters are called the Poor Clares.
Pope Pius XII made Clare the patron of television because it is said that one Christmas Eve when Clare was sick in bed she saw the crib and heard the singing in church as if she were there.
from Saints Kit
Image credit: St. Klara as depicted in the Martin Chapel fresco by Simone Martini, 1326. Public Domain via Wikimedia.