We often hear about Saint Francis of Assisi, but what about one of his closest friends and confidants, Saint Clare?
Saint Clare was dedicated to prayer since childhood. Once, Clare heard Saint Francis speak of jesus during a lenten sermon, and became overwhelmed with love. She devoted herself to both christ and Francis, cropped her hair, and joined a convent of benedictine nuns.
Her father tried to forcibly return her home. She gripped to the altar, tore off her veil to show her short hair, and shouted “jesus is my husband now”.
It was said that when she came out of prayer, her face became radiant and dazzling.
At first, Clare and her sister lived in a moderate benedictine covenant. But Saint Francis helped repair a fucked up little shack next to a church for them to live in, where they could give themselves over to complete poverty and seclusion. Other women came to join them, and they were called the Poor Ladies of San Damiano.
Clare spent her life as an abbess protecting and defending the women in her order. Prelates tried to get Clare’s order to abandon their way of life to follow the Benedictine rule. Following Francis’ death, the pope tried to convince Clare to water down the communities way of corporate poverty. Clare, full-heartedly, warded off each of these attempts to stray from their mission of simplicity.
Clare and the Poor Ladies were committed to meeting christ in meekness and poverty.
But Clare’s commitments to ferociously serving christ through defending her order were not only on the spiritual and religious realms.
They were material.
In 1224, Frederick II’s soldier’s came to attack Assisi. When the soldiers came to her little shack where her and the Poor Ladies stayed, she came out, with the holy sacraments in hand. She prayed out loud to god for them to defend the Poor Ladies from the attack. She cried out into the night. “Oh god, protect these sisters whom I cannot protect now.”
God’s audible voice came to Clare.
“I will keep them always in my care.”
And the soldiers came down with a terrible fright. They fled without attack.
In her dying days, Clare was very ill. She couldn’t attend mass anymore, which broke her heart. The tender god of her soul projected mass on the wall for her to see and hear, which is how Clare became the patron saint of television.
Saint Clare, pray for us.
May you walk alongside us and guide us as we defend our communities and the church from American Evangelicalism’s attempts to water down and co-opt Jesus’ messages of radical love, of resource sharing, of death to self.
May you embolden us to risk our lives to defend our comrades, sacraments in hand.