Joy in the Lord

By on in

What could have inspired a young, Italian noblewoman to leave everything she knew behind to begin a new and radical life?

St. Clare heard St. Francis preaching in the streets, and felt an instant, burning desire to imitate his humble life of poverty.  She was so inspired that she ran away from home and gave herself to God.  In a small chapel outside of Assisi, St. Francis cut off her hair and gave her a simple, rough brown habit with a simple cord to wear.  Her angry family tried to make her come home several times, but she refused; her life now belonged to God.

Soon, more young women began to join her, including her own sister Agnes.  Living as “brides of Christ” these women wore no shoes and lived a life of poverty and prayer.  But, they lived in joy, because they always felt close to the Lord.

With St. Clare as their foundress, they became known as the Order of Poor Ladies (now known as the Poor Clares).  St. Francis named her the abbess, a role which she held until her death.

For the last 27 years of her life, St. Clare suffered in illness, though she never let that stand in her way of serving and protecting her sisters.  Once, an army of soldiers was coming to Assisi and they planned to attack the convent.  Though ill, she had herself carried to the outside wall of the convent and had the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance brought out with her.  There, she prayed fervently to the Lord, begging for his protection for the Sisters.  Her prayers were answered; some sudden fear struck the approaching army and they fled from the convent.  The sisters, and St. Clare herself, were spared.

As she neared the end of her life, she was too ill to even attend Mass.  The Lord, though, brought the Mass to her.  On the wall of her room, an image of the service would appear allowing her to still be near to Jesus and her Sisters, despite her illness.

St. Clare was once heard to say: “They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor?”  She, and the Sisters, gave up all they had because of their love for Jesus.  They loved him and served him, no matter the cost.  May we all try to follow her example and love Christ with everything we have.