St. Clare

Background of Saint Clare
St. Clare was born in Assisi / Italy in 1193 or 1194. As her parents wanted to arrange her marriage, she decided to consecrate her life to the poor under the spiritual authority of St. Francis. On the evening of Palm Sunday in 1212 Clare fled her parents' home to meet Francis and his friars at Saint Mary of the Angels. From that moment on, without losing any of her gentleness, she was filled with an unshakeable tenacity.
Clare lived in a humble condition of a servant. That was unthinkable for a woman of her class and was interpreted as a break with her whole environment. Soon she was joined by her sister and other female companions. When Saint Francis saw, that Claire did not shirk deprivation, hard work, or the contempt of the world he was moved by compassion for her and took her to San Daminiano in Assisi where she would live for 42 years to give birth to a new order, currently the largest in the world.
What did she do that was so extraordinary? If you look only at externals, nothing much. However, it is rather like a miniature: from a distance it does not seem special, but upon closer inspection you will discover a world in which each little detail speaks and opens horizons.
You will notice that Clare had a certain attraction, that impressed simple people as well as popes and cardinals. Clare became the most polished model of a medieval woman which transcends all times. Her freedom from her roots made her capable of understanding and accepting new forms of life and spirituality and break new ground.
Like Francis, Clare wanted to "work with her hands". Since work reveals a change of mentality. This was a novelty in monastic life of the time: nuns and monks of a certain class no longer did manual labor.
At San Daminiano the sisters work to earn a living, and to spend money as soon as possible for projects. This is the economic paradox of San Daminiano. Though it is against sound economic policy, it may create a circuit of charity and common ideals.
At first sight, one could wonder, if a nun who chose to live as a recluse eight centuries ago could have anything to say today. Clare did not do any preaching; she did not leave any tangible heritage.
She appears as a woman of solidarity and communion who is liberated not for her own personal satisfaction but to dedicate her life for projects for the innocent and the poor. In the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels one can still see the Blessed Virgin covering Clare with her mantle.
Equally charming is a story people have told throughout the years about Clare and Francis: During the winter days, Clare and Francis often would walk across the country to help the poor which provoked gossip. Francis was afraid and asked Clare not to meet each other again until... the roses would flourish.
At that moment hundreds of roses flourished on the snow-covered trees as a sign of the angels that true friendship should be allowed to grow.
Another story tells us that Clare and Francis were separated by a river. Francis was desperate because there seemed to be no chance to walk together.
Clare had a simple but logic idea: Let's go back to the springs - there we all meet.
Clare and Francis symbolise respect and love for each other thus stimulating others to share their way to the springs with decency and enthusiasm.

Instead of going old paths it often demands the courage to go instead where there is yet no path and leave a trail for others.