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St Clare of Assisi
pg 1
Looking closely at Clare's manner of living we see a strong woman who had learned patience, trust and how to live under the certitude of her own dignity and worth without the need of approval from others.  Clare never deviated from her initial resolve to live every moment of her life in a personal, loving relationship with Christ. This was her great secret, the source of her strength and her passion.
Who was Clare?   Clare was a medieval woman born into a rich and powerful family dominated by values of the nobility and of knightly exploits in war and battle. She received her name before her birth by her mother, Ortolana, who often went on pilgrmage to pray,  and did so this time  especially to pray for a safe birth for her child.  The Lord told her not to be afraid, that this child would truly be a light for many.  And so Clare, which means brightness or brilliance, was given by God to become a bright light throughout the Church and the world, for ages to come.
 
In 13th century Italy, while still a child, her destiny would have been defined by the men who ruled the clan. She would be married to a man of their choosing, someone whose assets and social standing would make the family even more powerful. Her own wishes were considered irrelevant. Clare upset all these plans ...
 
As a young girl, Clare prayed with the women of her household and often went out to give food to the poor.  She desired not riches, fame and a "worthy" marriage, but knew early on that only God could satisfy the desires of her heart. She was indeed the daughter of a knight, with strength of character and courage beyond her years, never satisfied with half-measures. Under the guidance of her saintly mother, she nurtured the desire to give herself totally to the love of Jesus.
 
Clare met Francis, listening and observing him. This was the catalyst that unleashed the passion that was within her own heart, and she saw the meaning of the call that had been drawing her with  deepening insistence over many years. With heroism and absolute determination, Clare sold her inheritance, and gave it to the poor. At the age of eighteen, on Palm Sunday, she secretly escaped from her parental home to become the first Franciscan woman.
 
After being received by Francis and his brothers to follow in his way of poverty, Clare lived for forty-two years with her sisters in the small enclosure of San Damiano in Assisi, Italy. They devoted themselves to a life of prayer, enduring many hardships. Yet her wisdom and holiness were recognized far and wide, and many came to her to recommend themselves to her prayer. 
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