Clare was born in 1194 and died in 1253. Two years later she was declared a Saint. What had she done to result in such a swift acknowledgement of her sanctity? She had spent most of the intervening years living a life of quiet prayer in the cloister of San Damiano, just outside Assisi.
It hadn’t begun quietly. She had run away from home at night when only 18 to join St Francis in his new way of living the Gospel call to religious life. As a woman she couldn’t follow the itinerant method of living of Francis and his followers, but she could choose the radical form of poverty so central to their interpretation of the Gospel way, to live without anything of their own.
In the monastery of San Damiano she chose not only personal poverty, but refused to accept for herself and her sisters any form of property which would give her security and free her from dependence on the Providence of God. Who would wish to live such a life of total insecurity? In fact from the very beginning she attracted many young women to follow her in this radical way of living the Gospel life.
As a sister among sisters Clare lived a life of loving service, encouraging all to follow this example. Her heart was given to God whom she loved completely, confident in his love for her, trusting Him to care for her and her sisters in every situation. Her call was always ‘Love him totally, who gave himself totally for your love’.
Her love and trust were not merely theoretical. When the monastery was in imminent danger of being overrun by Muslim mercenaries her answer was to have the pyx with the Blessed Sacrament brought out and placed before her. Her prayer was simplicity itself, ‘Lord, look upon these servants of yours because I cannot protect them’. Her trust was not in vain , the soldiers withdrew.
Always full of praise and thanksgiving, when she lay dying she was heard to say ‘Go calmly in peace, for you will have a good escort, because he who created you has sent you the Holy Spirit and has always guarded you as a mother does her child who loves her. O Lord may you who created me be blessed.’