Wisdom of the Saints:

St. Clare of Assisi

Saint Clare was born in 1193 to a well to do family in Assisi. She was interested in religious life and taught many of her family’s servants about the Catholic faith.   She was a prize to her father, as eligible daughters were like pawns whose marriages could seal alliances with other noble families.  She was moved by the preaching of St Francis when she was 18 years old.  She began to meet with him privately to talk about the things of God and a new plan for her life.

On Palm Sunday in Assisi, it was traditional for eligible young ladies to process down the aisle of the Cathedral to receive a blessed palm branch from the Bishop.   St. Clare was in the Cathedral on Palm Sunday 1212, but did not process with all the others. Instead, the Bishop descended the sanctuary steps and extended a palm to her as she remained in her pew. Christ would be her spouse.

St Clare immediately fled her family and entered a local convent. She donned a rough habit and her hair was shorn. The men in her family were alarmed and rushed to bring her home and to her senses. St. Clare would not budge. As they tried to drag her out of the chapel, she grabbed the altar as an anchor and tore its linens to the floor. Her family finally recognized the law of sanctuary and retreated. St. Clare never deviated from the path she chose that Palm Sunday night. Her close, holy relationship with St. Francis would endure until his death. He was the leader, the giver, the essential figure. She provided support and allegiance.

St. Clare would go on to become the first woman to write a rule for other women. She became the foundress of the first female Franciscan religious, who number in the tens of thousands today.

St. Clare was the conduit of a miracle in 1240.  By holding the sacred Host in a monstrance, she turned away an attack by soldiers who had broken into the convent.