... an appreciation of St Clare.
Clare Offreduccio was born in 1194,
the daughter of a wealthy family in Assisi . When she was eighteen years old, she heard a sermon by Francis of Assisi, and was moved by it to follow the example of the Franciscan brothers, committing herself to a life of poverty. Her other family members were horrified, and brought her back home by force; but one night, in a symbolic gesture, she slipped out of her house through "the door of the dead" (a small side door that was traditionally opened only to carry out a corpse) and returned to the house of the Franciscans.
Francis cut off her hair, and placed her in a nearby convent. Later a house was found for her, and she was eventually joined by two of her sisters, her widowed mother, and several members of the wealthy Ubaldini family of Florence. Clare's best friend, Pacifica, joined them too.
The sisters of her order came to be known informally as Minoresses
or as “Poor Clares”. (Franciscan brothers are Friars Minor = "lesser brothers"). When the order was formed, Francis suggested Clare as Superior, but she refused the position until she turned twenty-one.
They devoted themselves to prayer, nursing the sick, and works of mercy for the poor and neglected. They adopted a rule of life of extreme austerity (more so than of any other order of women up to that time)
and of absolute poverty, both individually and collectively.
They had no beds, and the building was open to the elements. When Clare was not fasting, she and the community members existed on a sparse vegetarian diet, food for which they begged.
For forty-two years she directed the order with zeal and prudence,
her own life serving as a living homily for her sisters to emulate.
She was a most perfect follower of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Order named after her, The Poor Clares, continues to this day, both in the Roman and in the Anglican communions.
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:
Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
St Clare advised the members of her community to….
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 transform your whole being
into the image of the Godhead Itself, through contemplation! So that you too may feel what His friends feel as they taste the hidden sweetness which God Himself has reserved from the beginning for those who love Him.