St. Clare of Assisi, whom we celebrate today, was a great example of the adage “Behind every good man, there is a good woman.” While he did not see her often, St. Francis counted on her holiness and wisdom to shore up his determination in times of doubt and difficulty. Clare was a clear mirror of the presence of God for Francis and for those women who followed her to the convent of San Damiano, and he was the same for her. She was a woman of great strength and perseverance who believed that she was the one who knew best what should be written in a rule for women in a religious order. Although she easily accepted the rule that Francis has written in the early days, after the death of Francis she continued for 27 years to submit a revised rule to bishops and popes until she finally received and signed a constitutional document of her own two days before her death on August 11, 1253.
Living in the freedom of poverty and the humility of a cloistered community, motivated by love alone, Clare wrote to a younger woman to encourage her in her living of religious life:
Happy, indeed is she to whom it is given to share the sacred banquet, to cling with all her heart to Him Whose beauty all the heavenly hosts admire unceasingly, Whose love inflames our love, Whose contemplation is our refreshment, Whose graciousness is our joy, Whose gentleness fills us to overflowing, Whose remembrance brings a gentle light, Whose fragrance will revive the dead, Whose glorious vision will be the happiness – of all the citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Praise be to God for this wonderful woman!