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0. General Introduction Although the Octocentenary Celebrations of the Clarian Jubilee had already been closed all over the world by the entire Franciscan Family and more specifically by the Order of the Poor Sisters of Saint Clare in their respective monasteries on 11th August of this year 2012, I want still to highlight Clares legacy to us in this short article because many do not know her enough for their edification as disciples of the Lord Jesus.


Specific Preliminary Observations This article does not pretend to be authoritative on this theme of The Legacy of Francis and

Clare of Assisi to the Church and Society. Thus, may it serve as an invitation to others who might feel more competent on the matter to show us what that legacy is specifically to our contemporary context of this conflictive technological age. We intend to touch only the principal legacies these two saints have bequeathed to us. To have a discourse on Francis of Assisi is to have a discourse on her partner in Gospel living and co-citizen, Clare of Assisi. Even the most recent Letter of the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, Br. Jos Rodrguez Carballo OFM, for the feast of Saint Clare this year strongly indicates so.2 That Clare calls herself the little plant (plantula) of Francis does not necessarily mean that she stands simply as a shadow of Francis. After the more recent studies on both sources of Francis and Clare, we have to aver that there is asymmetrical symmetry between the two.3 Marco Bartoli, an authority on Clare, has adverted us to the fact that Jacques Dalarun must be credited for being the first to recognise such imbalance, who states:
The relationship between the father and his little plant is extremely asymmetrical. This does not stop us understanding the fascination which Francis had for Clare, rather the contrary. In any 4 rapport between human beings, the most vibrant dynamic will be found in disequilibrium.

After all, not even Thomas of Celano in his second biography could not but conclude that Francis care and solicitude for the poor sisters which he carried out and wanted his brothers to carry out after his death was due to the recognition that one and the same Spirit had led the brothers and those little poor ladies out of this world (2 Cel 204).


The Supreme Legacy That all the Rules of the entire Franciscan Family state that the form or rule and life is the

observance of the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ indicates the certitude that the supreme legacy of the two to us in the Church and society is the living of that Gospel.5 It is the form of life that is common to us all, whether of the I Order6 or the II Order7 or of the III Order, both regular8 and secular9:
I Order: The Rule and Life of the Lesser Brothers is this : to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord 10 Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of ones own, and in chastity (LR 1,1). II Order: The form of life of the Order of the Poor Sisters that Blessed Francis established is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience, without anything of 11 ones own, and in chastity. III Order Regular: The form of life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, in poverty and in chastity. Following Jesus Christ after the example of St. Francis, let them recognize that they are called to make greater efforts in their observance of the precepts and counsels of 12 Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let them deny themselves (cf. Mt 16:24) as each has promised the Lord. III Order Secular: The Rule and Life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the centre of his life with God and people. Christ, the gift of the Fathers love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly. Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the Gospel, going from Gospel to life and life to 13 the Gospel.

This return to the Gospel as our form of life is a constant summons to us all of the Franciscan Family, and really of all Christian believers. Without this, the other legacies of both or of one or the other cannot be properly understood. At the time of Francis, the basic stance of monastic life was to live according to the model of Acts, having all things in common and persevering in prayer. Francis was called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus which does not necessarily mean doing exactly what Jesus did, but it does mean acting from within the basic understanding of Jesus, that all are children of the one Father in heaven. Francis and Clare seem to have had an immense respect for the individual calling of each one. Among the early friars there was a huge degree of individuality in which some lived in eremo and some went around preaching while others worked in the fields,14 etc. Francis does not seem to have said to any group that they were not living the life, but rather respected the call of each one while never losing sight of the fact that their fundamental call was to follow the footprints of the poor Christ. We see the same respect in Clare and the way she encourages Agnes in her growing understanding of poverty while never suggesting that the royal burial place she had built in Prague was in any way wrong when compared with San Damiano. They knew each had been called by divine inspiration, made this the

touchstone for discerning any vocation, and respected the work of the Spirit in each life. In the monastic context, life was so established as to allow each monk to live as if alone with God, the horizontal dimension was controlled and limited so as to stop it encroaching on that aloneness with God. For Francis and Clare, the incarnate God was to be found in the midst of a loved humanity. These seem to us to be two very different fundamental stances and all the rest flows from them.

It should be mentioned early at this point that in the mind of Clare, her Form of Life and of her poor sisters was the same as that of Francis and of his lesser brothers. If Francis insisted that his Rule be called Rule and Life, it was because it was a lived experience first, before becoming a codificationa process that took seventeen years from 1209 with the verbal approval of the fraternity by Pope Innocent III up to 1223 with the official approval of the so-called Later Rule with a papal bull from Pope Honorius III. If this is true of the experience of Francis and his brothers it is even more cogently true of Clare and her poor sisters. Consistently she never calls her Rule a Rule, though it is (!), especially with its hurried formal approval by Pope Innocent IV with a papal bull on 9th August 1253, barely two days before her death. Her Form of Life, well tried in the crucible of Church politics of those times, was lived by her and her sisters, first from 1212 when she asserted later in her own Testament that Jesus Christ became for her the Way according to the teachings and example of Francis (cf. TestCl 5), her support and consolation in the Gospel living, until 1253, a very long time, indeed!forty one years of uphill struggle against the papacy and its bureaucracy, which imposed the Rule of Saint Benedict and other curial policies on her and her sisters. She had nothing against such Rule but she was clear to herself what God wanted of her and of her sisters to offer to Church and society, as its co-worker. She would respect Church authority but she saw that her ultimate obedience is to the Spirit of the Lord, as she manifested in her advice to her friend, Agnes of Prague, who wanted also to follow Jesus Christ in the manner of Francis and Clare but was being denied to do so by the Church dignitaries, especially by Pope Gregory IX. Clare could become very lyrical in her advice as shown in her Second Letter to Agnes:

What you hold, may you hold, What you do, may you do and not stop. But with swift pace, light step, unswerving feet, so that even your steps stir up no dust, may you go forward securely, joyfully, and swiftly, on the path of prudent happiness, believing nothing, agreeing with nothing that would dissuade you from this commitment or would place a stumbling block for you on the way,

so that nothing prevents you from offering your vows to the Most High in the perfection to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you. In all of this, follow the counsel of our venerable father, our Brother Elias, the Minister General, that you may walk more securely in the way of the commands of the Lord. Prize it beyond the advice of others and cherish it as dearer to you than any gift. If anyone has said anything else to you or suggested any other thing to you that might hinder your perfection or that would seem contrary to your divine vocation, even though you must respect him, do not follow his counsel (2 15 LAg 11b-17).

Clare does not mention at all the name of Pope Gregory IX, but evidently it was he who made things difficult not only for Clare but also for her friend and associate Agnes on the Gospel way. Clare

had resisted to be co-opted into the Order that this pope organized and founded with enclosure as the distinctive character of female religious life. There seems a strong body of oral evidence that Clare and her sisters came from San Damiano in the very early days and worked with the women lepers at La Maddalena and San Rufino dArce. La Maddalena has only fairly recently been understood as having a part in the Franciscan story. It is a small chapel on the road between the Porziuncola and Rivotorto and was the chapel of the women lepers. Men lepers lived on the other side of town at San Lazaro. It is highly probable that the sisters worked there and this is what Jacques de Vitry saw,16 and that this continued until the changes imposed by Lateran IV when they had to take an existing Rule and took that of Benedict. Although it might start a revolution, I believe myself that there is strong evidence for saying that Clares vision has not been lived since 1216!!!17 This in spite of the fact that Clare accepted what the Church required with, it seems, no anguish, but the two elements which were essential to her were that she belonged to the same Order as the friars by reason of her profession and that she was wholly committed to following Jesus Christ in his poverty and self-stripping as she said to Gregory IX later on in 1228, when she asked for the Privilege of Poverty.18

We also think that she was obviously a highly intelligent woman and well understood the way in which Francis and she were offering an alternative to the societies of their time. But they would have said, and probably rightly, that they were simply following the Gospel. Their genius seems to have been that they read the Gospel without blinkers, unlike most of us!

It is noteworthy that the foregone Octocentenary of the Order of the Poor Sisters of Saint Clare had run during this 50th Year of the start of the II Vatican Council. Though the following statement is found in Perfectae Caritatis, the Decree on the Up-to-date Renewal of Religious Life, nonetheless we hold it to be true for all who want to call themselves Christian disciples:

Since the final norm of the religious life is the following of Christ as it is put before us in the Gospel, this must be taken by all institutes as the supreme rule (PC 2.[a]).

A little bit more than forty years later, the I International Congress on Consecrated Life held in Rome in 2004 felt the need to address once again this basic principle of Church renewal. It is not something which we can ever take for granted.19


Consequent Legacies If the Gospel remains the measure of our Christian/religious identity, the response to it is

shaped very much by the socio-cultural context in which one lives. There is the urgency of a dialectic dialogue between the Gospel and such context towards enhancing what is humanizing in it and critiquing and purifying what dehumanizes. 2.1 The Socio-Cultural Context of Francis and Clares Times Marco Bartoli in the oft-cited book in this article gives us a description of the tumultuous times, which we will try to summarize through the following excerpts:
The beginning of the thirteenth century in the Italian peninsula was characterized by a situation of great political instability. The opposition between the two massive medieval powers of the emperor and the papacy marked these years with a particular violence. Such an opposition affected all the structures of society: the great feudal laity and ecclesiastics and also the new city institutions which, during these years, 20 were establishing the Communes. You could describe war in thirteenth century Italy as a series of concentric circles. In the first circle would be civil war within the city between the different groups of families, primarily for dominance and later between the maiores and the minores. The entire century was marked by this hard social confrontation, in the course of which the peoples party progressively increased its own power. This first level of conflict is closely connected with the second: that between different cities. Here too the story of Assisi is an example: just as the conflict between the maiores and minores in the Umbrian city led to war with neighbouring Perugia, so all too often the political growth of the other Communes of central and north Italy was accompanied by conflict with their neighbouring cities for control of the district. Every city, in fact, found its strength and its raison dtre in trade, which became the centre of a whole network of an economic system. As a result the interests of each city were in conflict with those of the neighbouring cities and this in turn led to a never-ending state of war and rivalry. During the course of the century, this internal strife within the cities gradually assumed a mature political connotation, with the various groups giving allegiance to one or other of the two great alliances which all this time were carving up the peninsula between them. So we begin to say that every city was divided between Guelph or Ghibelline, the first being supporters of the pope and the second of the emperor. This was the third level of war in the thirteenth century, that of the conflict between these two great powers of Christendom, pope and emperor. The struggle between Frederick II and Gregory IX was as intense as it was bitter and in the end it involved everything and everyone. However, this was not the highest level of war in the thirteenth century. The fourth and highest level was that of the conflict between Christianity and Islam, the Crusades. When he received the imperial crown, Frederick promised to go on crusade. It was because of this unfulfilled promise that he was excommunicated for the first time by the pope. These four levels of war in the thirteenth century were all interconnected among themselves. The crusades were the cause of litigation and then of open warfare between pope and emperor. The struggle between these two was in turn the source of the division of the Italian cities into Guelph and Ghibelline and this was what might be called the ideological packaging of the internal strife of the cities. The plot of the different forms of war was not only political. From the beginning of the thirteenth century, after Saladin 21 had recaptured Jerusalem in 1187, the thrust of the crusades was not without its delusions.

One particular consequence continued to produce its fruit of blood in the time of Clare and of Francis of Assisi, and this was the growth and spread of intolerance. Every war produces its culture of hostility and the 22 fallout lasts beyond the close of military hostilities. To some extent it is possible to trace the arc of the development and growth of this culture of intolerance right through the twelfth century, from opposition to the Muslims to the persecution of all who were perceived as different, or as heretics or schismatics. Amid all these feelings of opposition, there was one that is particularly striking because of the fragility of those who were its objectthat is the hostility towards lepers. Even leprosy was a fruit of the crusades. The real spread of leprosy followed the return of the 23 crusaders from across the sea. Certainly there were occasions when many men and women showed compassion towards these afflicted people, but on the whole the principle was one of the exclusion and then the confining of those who were considered to be a danger. The exclusion was all the stronger because it was thought that leprosy was transmitted through sexual contact, so the afflicted were twice cursed because they were seen 24 as suffering the consequences of their sins.

It was in this context that both Francis and Clare of Assisi presented their gospel alternative to such violence whether in the Church or in society. 2.2 Order of Lesser Brothers (Ordo Fratrum Minorum) = Order of Poor Sisters (Ordo Sororum Pauperum (Sanctae Clarae)25

The very title itself of both Orders as willed by Francis and Clare suggests the Gospel way of justice, peace and solidarity that leads to the Kingdom of God. It is by being a minor or lesser that one becomes a brother; it is by being poor that one becomes a sister. There is no other way! Without minority or evangelical poverty, authentic brotherhood/sisterhood is an illusory reality, a sham. And both realized this because they encountered God is humility in Jesus Christs self-emptying. Jesus was not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters, as the letter to the Hebrews assert (Heb 2,10-13), because he became truly one among us in everything except sin. The Earlier Rule of Francis clearly asserts: Let no one be called prior, but let everyone in general be called a lesser brother. Let one wash the feet of the other (ER 6,3-4). While everyone vied for honours, positions, power and influence in the higher scale of the social ladder even to the expense of others, the brothers and eventually the sisters of the Franciscan/Clarian Movement must seek to be always a lesser brother/a poor sister. What this means is brought home by Francis by bringing in the scene of the Masters Last Supper with his disciples (cf. Jn 13,12-15) at the above-mentioned text of the Earlier Rule. When life was already at its lowest ebb in Francis, he ordered according to his first biographer that the Gospel according to John be read to him, starting with the passage that begins: Six days before the Passover Jesus, knowing that the hour had come to pass from this world to the Father (1 Cel 110). He always looked at the Son of Gods self-emptying in Jesus Christ as the key to that communion with all. Possibly looking at the current situation of the Order at that time, when many of the clerics who had entered but had not gone through the original demand of expropriation of all towards becoming a brother (cf. the possible original Propositum vitae as contained in ER 1)26 were making a mess of the Franciscan Movement which Francis claimed the Most High Himself to have revealed to him that he should live according to the pattern of the Holy Gospel (cf. Test 14), a final reminder would be in place. The fraternity was meant for all! The social formula of the Christian community is: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).27 This fraternity cut through classes (minores and maiores), clerical distinction

(ordained and non-ordained), educational attainment (literate and illiterate). And there must be no domination among them. Let them not be called prior. The supreme norm for admittance to the acceptance of the life is divine inspiration. One recognized only one Father in heaven; all are brothers (and sisters)! Ones approach to everyone should be based on the reality of our common Fatherhood. As far as we understand it, this was the reason why Francis considered everyone and everything to be his brother and sister. To be one in Christ Jesus is to be in total harmony with his realization of our shared Father, our one Source of all being. We are ontologically one family and we only live like a family in the most negative sense. The quarreling is there but not the fundamental commitment to each other which can usually be relied on in a family. And this holds not only for fellow humans but for all Gods creatures in this world. We also need to extend this understanding of brotherhood and sisterhood to the whole of creation and cease assuming that creation is there simply to serve us. This seems to be a terrible arrogance which we find in even the nicest of people and is a kind of relic from the days when we assumed humanity was the centre of the universe! Just read Francis swansong as a dying person, The Canticle of Creatures, where he calls the sun, air, fire Brother and the moon, water, earth Sister because they are all Gods, the Most High, the Supreme Good, the Total Good, the Father and Mother of all. And there was the problem then! When Francis and his brothers were no longer considered as madmen, entry into the Order on the part of those with hidden clerical ambitions became a way of getting their go-getter schemes fulfilled. Bitter conflicts were hence inevitable. And even the lay brothers were eventually marginalized, especially in the animation and governance of the Order! And we dare now to lament that the Order of Friars Minor is becoming more clericalised with the lay brothers diminishing in numbers and becoming an endangered species! Clare, who had captured the very mind and heart of Francis would not remain alien to the conflict itself. If Gregory IX could invoke his closeness to Francis as a basis for knowing his mind more fully (Quo elongati [1230]), and thus giving the correct interpretation of certain provisions of the Rule and Life of the lesser brothers,28 would not Clare vaunt even more forcefully about the credibility of her witness to the mind of the most blessed father Francis as a founder, planter, and helper in the service of Christ and in those things they had promised to God and to the blessed father (cf. TestCl 48)? And she did with a vision29 the Lord gave her as a consolation, a divine response to her need 30 of a support in her struggle to remain faithful to the Form of Life that Francis had given her and her sisters! The vision is correctly interpreted by Marco Bartoli as the expression of the spiritual maternity of Francis who gives Clare something to drink and nourishes her and thereby recognizes her as a daughter.31 Pursuing the vision onto the end, one concludes that
Clare had not only interiorized a part of Francis, but she herself had been transformed; her image and stature were the equal of Francis. She herself through her dream had been transformed into a mirror of Francis, into another Francis. Confronted by any questions about who was their support after the death of Francis, the dream responds that it was Clare herself who had now been transformed into another Francis and that she would now be all the support they might need. This too is the reason why the sisters tell about the vision during the 32 Canonisation process.

If, indeed, Clare assumed this role as the custodian of the memory of Francis and the Movement that he set in motion, we would not be surprised if the first brothers, like Br. Giles, and some others as well who also felt the loss of Francis with his death, saw in her the living memory of their brother and father Francis. It was to her they sought refuge when they were marginalized by the learned clerics to stand firm to the gospel living, by being brothers and lesser at that up to the hilt, which they had solemnly promised to the Lord and Francis. We do not think that the three surviving companions of Francis (Leo, Juniper and Angelo) who assisted Clare at her dying moments were there only for that occasion.33 It is, therefore, not shocking to find her rejecting the interpretation of Pope Gregory IX, regarding the entry of friars in the monastery of San Damiano, when she saw the reciprocity and mutuality of relations between the lesser brothers and the poor sisters set aside when this constituted part and parcel of their identity as poor sisters. The confrontation between Pope Gregory IX and Clare is narrated in her Legend 37. A modern narrative of it is given to us by Marco Bartoli in his biography on Clare:
When news of the dispositions contained in the bull reached San Damiano, and especially when the sisters heard the last part which forbade the brethren to go to the monasteries of nuns without papal permission, Clare opposed it totally. Four or five of the brethren were leaving near San Damiano, some of whom were responsible for obtaining the necessary provisions for the monastery, others for the spiritual needs of the sisters. At the news that the pope had reserved to himself the choice of the broth ers charged with the sisters spiritual care, Clare sent away those responsible for their alms saying: L et him now take away all the brothers since he has taken those who give us the food of life. In effect, this was a hunger strike. The pope had deprived them of the spiritual alms represented by the brothers visits and so Clare renounced the material alms; by so doing she ran the risk of finding that she and her sisters had no food to 34 eat. The pope, learning of this, hastily handed the matter over to the Minister General.

But this was not the end of Clares struggle to remain to her role as guardian of Francis memory. She did not forget the grievous mistake of the brothers who were unwilling to agree with one another on the basics of the Gospel living bequeathed by Francis to the lesser brothers, so much so that they had to appeal to an external factor, the pope himself, who was shrewd enough to take advantage of the situation by readily answering to the query of the 1230 General Chapter. In due time after a little more than two decades Clare would ingeniously show in her Form of Life, the first of its kind done by a woman in the history of the Church, that truly she was involved in the Franciscan dispute despite the silence imposed on her by the narrativesa silence, which she must have accepted as fructifying. For therein, she learned how to put things together from the papal and curial documents considered to be essential by the times to live as religious women in enclosure, and above all from her lived experience of

Gospel living in the manner of Francis together with her own sisters of San Damiano into a Form of Life.35 This is what she asked for approval with a papal bull from Innocent IV right before dying, not contented simply with the approval of the Cardinal Protector Rainaldo, Bishop of Ostia and Velletri.36 As I stated elsewhere, this Form of Life of the Poor Sisters attests, therefore, to the dogged perseverance unto death of one who set out on the path of the Lord and has not at any time turned away from it through ones fault or negligence or ignorance (cf. TestCl 74).37 2.3 Expropriation or Non-appropriation The recent II International Congress of the Federation Presidents of Monasteries of the Order of the Poor Sisters of Saint Clare, held earlier this year in February 2012, has recognized the need of the development of this Franciscan-Clarian trait of penitential life in the formative process: Throughout the formative process, the sine proprio (without anything of ones own, writers insertion) is to illuminate the elements of our Franciscan-Clarian life. The aforementioned Letter of the Minister General OFM for the feast of Saint Clare during the Jubilee Year 2012 discusses this essential element of FranciscanClarian life explicitly.38 This is in keeping not only with our discipleship of the Son of God in Jesus Christ who emptied himself of all the accoutrements of his divinity but also of the demands of seeking an alternative to the unjust world order that has caused malaise and lot of violent, human-made calamities due to a materialistic globalised world. Since many must be well acquainted with Francis expropriation, which had been very well portrayed, even cinematographically, let us focus on Clares while making first general remarks on both. Both were victims of an unjust social system that impinged on their families. Both had fathers, whose values reflected the social classes they belonged to: the one, a greedy mercator (merchant) craving for a dominant place and say in society; the other, a tyrannical noble bellator (warrior) seeking to maintain a position of privilege at the expense of the weaker ones. Both were most of the time absent from their families, preoccupied with their worldly cares. It was Clare, who even while still at home, was able to see the folly of such a quest for false grandeur and worth and rebelled against the entirely unjust system, perhaps with less fanfare than Francis, but nonetheless with an equally radical manner by taking oneself to the core of the Gospel. The witnesses to the process of Clares canonisation manifestly attest to her kindness and generousity to the poor even before following Francis Form of Life (cf. PC I:3). Lady Bona di Guelfuccio testifies that she used to send to the poor the food she was supposed to have eaten ( cf. PC XVII:1; XX:3). Clares erstwhile suitor, Lord Ranieri di Bernardo of Assisi, also declares that she willingly gave as many alms as she could (PC XVIII:3). Sister Benvenuta of Perugia (cf. PC II:22), Sister Filippa (cf. PC

III:31) and Pietro di Damiano of Assisi (cf. PC XIX:1) were all in accord to say that she sold her inheritance or dowry and gave it to the poor (cf. LegCl 13). Even Sister Cristiana added a detail in this regard that points to Clares bullheaded cutting of ties with the unjust system of which her patriarchal family was a part, even before her flight to the Porziuncola. She thus avers: in selling her inheritance, Lady Clares relatives wanted her to give them a better price. She did not want to sell it to them, but sold it to others, so the poor would not be defrauded. All she received from the sale of the inheritance, she distributed to the poor (PC XIII:10). If she was a zealous lover of the poor even before becoming a follower of Francis, how much more must she be thereafter! For this reason, the sisters must not have deaf ears to her dying plea: Time and again we willingly bound ourselves to our Lady, most holy Poverty, that after my death, the sisters, those present and those to come, would never turn away from her (TestCl 39). For, to turn away from her is to cease gazing at the Mirror,39 seeing the marvellous humility and astonishing poverty of Jesus who was laid in a manger, and the ineffable charity of him who was suspended on the Wood of the Cross (cf. 4 LAg 15-24; TestCl 45). This must have been the reason also for her zealous following of Francis practice of praying the Office of the Passion. Speaking from the almost ten-year experience of alternative Clarian contemplative life at Hollington, East Sussex, England and reading the Clarian sources, it does seem to the co-writer that what Clare sought was to follow Jesus Christ by becoming poor as he did, sharing the lives of the most destitute. In Hollington, we have done no more than take a first step in this direction, but we do believe it is a first step, and also that the way of life in Hollington responds to the remarks below about building up the local Christian community rather than our own community. Clare seems to have shared the ability of Francis, to take the Gospel simply and directly and then to put it into practice. Giacomo Bini, a former Minister General OFM, used to say like many liberation theologians that the poor will evangelise us, and we are experiencing that this is true. It is the terrible vulnerability of the really poor which makes clear the defences we have against the risks of an unprotected life and, more profoundly, the way we base our self-evaluation on those defences. So living among or in contact with the really poor does show us up and that can only be good if it is indeed the truth which sets us free. But the co-writer would say further that what recommends us to the poor is not so much that we have become like them, because in many ways we have not and even could not, but they do, I trust, recognise that we believe our calling is to be sisters and therefore to share with them whatever we have. And this we do try to do. There is always a sensitive edge between being generous and being exploited, and even though we try to avoid being exploited, it must always be based not on our pride but on our sense of stewardship, that

whatever we have has been given us by others. We constantly need to ask: What does God intend for this money, this food, this ...? The key Clarian source, to the co-writers mind, is in the papal letter at the beginning of the Form of Life where it says that what Clare was asking was to live in unity of mind and heart and in most high poverty.40 This is the fullest and best statement of Poor Clare life that I know. It is the more so in that twelve months earlier, Cardinal Rainaldo had written to Clare and said that she was asking to live enclosed as to the body. I think we can take it that the statement of Innocent IV reflects what Clare asked him on her deathbed when he visited her. Unity of mind and heart is profoundly challenging actually!!! Even with only four of us, it is difficult and I do not know how one would do it with a large community, another thing which inclines me to think that it is best if Poor Clare communities are small. The larger the community, the more hiding places there are from real relationships. Large communities are indignant when one says this because they too struggle with relationships, but our experience of being few has revealed how vulnerable we are to each other and how hard this is when the other is probably not the one I would have chosen!



Peace is a fruit of justice. We have seen above the very unjust structures of Assisi and Italy and of Europe of the 13th century, which spawned violence and wars in different concentric circles. As reported by the Three Companions, Francis wanted the peacemakers to be consistent within with what they proclaim outside of themselves:
As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts. Let no one be provoked to anger or scandal through you, but may everyone be drawn to peace, kindness and harmony through your gentleness. For we have been called to this: to heal the wounded, bind up the broken and recall the erring (L3C 58).

Hearing such admonition one cannot but be mindful of what is termed nowadays as non-violent or connecting language. Indeed, peace is the core of his teaching, so that work for justice and peace forms the DNA of Franciscan mission. Thomas of Celano, his first biographer, attests that In all of his preaching, before he presented the Word of God to the assembly, he prayed for peace, saying: May the Lord give you peace! (1 Cel 23). In fact, in his Testament, Francis wrote that the said greeting of peace was a revelation to him (Test 27). The historian David Flood OFM has shown very convincingly in all his books, especially in his not too known study on the issue, entitled Work for Everyone, that the very first brothers did develop an alternative economy, which is that of sharing and solidarity, instead of accumulating and profit. Truly peace ensues if the goods (bona) are circulated and do not get stuck within the grasp of one or only a few. Is not this the very cause of the unjust system of our world order nowadays? Such is conveyed by the popular but truly dangerous Franciscan greeting: PACE E BENE! (Peace and Well-being!).

Marco Bartoli in his recent work cited oft above41 is of the opinion that Francis instinct for peace matures into an option for mercy towards victims of intolerance, beginning with the lepers, the lowest in the ranks of those excluded in his Church and society. The same author considers the high point of Francis longing for peace is shown in his famous dialogue with Sultan Melekh el-Kamil of Damietta, Egypt, to whom he presented himself with Br. Illuminato without any arms at all in contrast to the bellicose and well-armed crusaders, led by the worldly ecclesiastic Cardinal Pelagius.42 Bartoli concludes his short discourse on the matter with these words:
It is enough to underline the strong bond which unites the option of mercy for the lepers and the dialogue with the Sultan. In both cases Francis knew how to overcome 43 the limitations of prejudice by going to speak with the excluded and with the enemy.

Coming from a family of knights (warriors), Clare must not have been insensitive to Francis preaching and mission of peace. She herself experienced violence and marginalisation from her very own macho family members when she made her flight that Palm Sunday night to the Portiuncula and was consecrated by Francis to become a penitent, like them. Her wanting to belong solely to Jesus Christ showed also her attempts to extricate herself from the unjust family structures that thrived in her time, especially among the nobility. Young noble girls were often matched with sons of the powerful and the rich, even frequently contrary to the former ones will to enhance ones status in feudal and/or communal society. Girls or women were often used as pawns for selfish political and economic alliances. Noteworthy is the testimony of her erstwhile suitor, Lord Ranieri di Bernardo.44 But if they were enraged by her frustration of their marriage plans for her, this was even compounded by the vilitas (degradation) of her action: that of presenting herself at the Benedictine monastery of San Paolo delle Abadesse as a poor servant after renouncing everything in favour of the poor. This must have been considered a very shameful act to the somewhat noble family in the eyes of their countrymen. Clare did not only have a change of heart but also a change of status. Because of the expropriation she did in favour of the poor, Clare had no dowry at all, not even for entering a regular monastery which she did not intend to do at all. But she bore the brunt of their brute violence when her younger sister Catherine, later known as Agnes, decided to follow her just a few days later on. The Legend on Clare is very descriptive of this event.45 Such violent events did not lie hidden. They must have been the talk of the whole of Assisi for some time, just as a couple of years earlier Francis and his brothers also made waves that shook up the communal system with their taking to the Gospel way as their manner of living and relating with the entire human family and creation. The narrative of Saint Clares biography with its interpretation is not an exaggeration when it states that peoples of all ages and walks of life joined the Gospel movement (cf. LegCl 10). We know for a fact that many of Clares own relatives and friends, who lived with her as holy women before following Francis, eventually joined her at San Damiano. Even her own mother Ortulana, a truly noble woman, who reared Clare in genuine Christian piety, followed suit (cf. PC I:4). All of them must have seen the injustice and the violence that they were being subjected into. They must have seen

together with Clare the new household that they built, where unity of mutual love and peace thrives because of sharing, service and solidarity instead of acquisitiveness, domination and appropriation. Clare like Francis realised that as Christians, they and their sisters and brothers as well must themselves be a countermodel of peace instead of only working outwards towards a conflict-ridden society.46 To be such counterwitness is surely what the Church means when it asks religious, especially contemplatives, to be centres of spirituality in their region, and also peacemakers. This is usually necessary when we have a large group of human beings! Religious life, and particularly Poor Clare life, needs to find a new and richer understanding of its role for this ongoing century. We cannot continue simply to live on the riches of the past. We need to understand our charism, as Clare said: Know your vocation! (TestCl 4). THEN we can re-articulate it for today. The structures of enclosure for the Poor Clares have tended to establish not only an enclosed world but a closed world within which the sisters often live a very high degree of commitment to the gospel. But the community could be picked up and transported somewhere else without making a large impact on the district they are leavingof the one they are arriving in or, actually, on the community life. The enclosure has sometimes become a glass wall or bubble around a very committed life but with little permeability. In the name of creating an appropriate space for contemplation, the sisters have often been placed at second hand to the conflicts of human life. We are not sure if this is normal or in the long run healthy and may well be relevant to why people in most places are not joining us today. For sure, we need to model an alternative way of living the diversity of the human race. We need to form communities in which Galatians 3:28 is visibly true, something which issadlycounter to the current thinking in the Church as well as society. And such communities could be desired to primarily not build up their own communities but would help on the spot where they live to build Christian communities as communities of shared life. Carry each others burdens (Gal 6:2) is no sheer individual command but must be executed in the frame of the community itself.47 With the experience as a Poor Clare in Hollington of almost ten years, I can see that there are big difficulties in being a contemplative community in the centre of the larger community which is running along different lines. This is not to invalidate the enterprise, but simply to mention that it is quite a delicate balance and not always easy to maintain. These difficulties are not so much in the area of secular life encroaching on the religious life and the fundamental commitment to extended times of prayer. The difficulties become more apparent when there are problems in the neighbourhood or parish and the inevitability of being drawn in and the urgent need for the community members to keep in close communication with each other and not to take sides but to retain the stance which God seems to take, that all concerned are our

dear ones and the pain of conflict is ours too. Only by modelling the reality of the Christian communities to which we are all called, can we validly encourage others to do the same.



From this short essay on the legacy of Francis and Clare of Assisi, we can therefore come to the following conclusions: o The supreme legacy of both Francis and Clare of Assisi to us especially within the Church is the living of the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Form of Life common to all of the Franciscan Family irrespective of gender, canonical, social or civil status, caste or ethnicity or race, or whatever divisive and excluding conditionings. It is most relevant today because of what the II Vatican Council demands from us: a return to the original sources of our faith and religious traditions. Ensuing from this basic Franciscan-Clarian legacy flow the following consequent ones: The very title itself of the two Orders (OFMOSP) encapsulates the identity of their followers, including the brothers and sisters of penance. Living in accordance with it determines their relevance in the world today, for it constitutes above all their vocation and mission in the Church and society. Concretely by being subject to all, as Francis would say, with the objective of creating communion is the particular Franciscan-Clarian way of living the Gospel. Expropriation or non-appropriation, a conditio sine qua non for communion, solidarity and sharing amidst the unjust system of world and even Church order, stands out as a consequent imperative. Peacemaking in a very violent and marginalizing world is part and parcel of mission and evangelization and is mission itself. A legacy has significance only to its recipients if it is received mindfully and lived in accord with the mind and heart of the bequeathers in a new context with similarities or dissimilarities with the latters context. Thus, the need now for individuals/communities as an institute in the Church to become a living sign of the gospel in the unjust systems of our society/church in the world. In fact all of us in the Church and as church are called to be a divine contrast-society.48

May Clare and Francis embolden us to be ferments of renewal and change in our church and society, so that we can be authentic lesser brothers, poor sisters, and brothers and sisters of penance. Is not this what the II Vatican Council is all aboutto render all of us in the Church and who are church, to be truly servants of the world, of Gods people, towards the fullness of Gods reign over all?


This article is a revision of the talk that was originally addressed to the entire Franciscan Family of Sri Lanka that rd was gathered on 3 July 2012 at Saint Hermines Convent of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Thillanduwa, Negombo, Sri Lanka for the Octocentenary Celebration of the Beginnings of the Order of the Poor Sisters of Saint Clare. It has been further revised with the intent of enriching especially the Clarian insights by seeking the coauthorship of Sr. Frances Teresa Downing, a Poor Sister of Saint Clare from East Sussex, England. 2 Fr. Jos Rodrguez Carballo, OFM, Look Always to Your Beginning [Letter of the Minister General for the feast of St. Clare on the contemporary relevance of the Franciscan/Clarian Charism after 800 years of existence] (Rome: Curia OFM, 2012) 84 p; henceforth, Jos Rodrguez Carballo, OFM, Look Always to Your Beginning. 3 Even Marco Bartoli has titled the seventh chapter of his recent book on Clare, Asymmetrical Symmetry: Clare and Francis (cf. Marco Bartoli, Saint Clare beyond the Legend, trans. by Frances Teresa Downing OSC [Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messsenger Press, 2010, by Franciscan International Study Centre], pp. 95-107); henceforth, M. Bartoli, Saint Clare beyond the Legend. 4 Quoted in M. Bartoli, Saint Clare beyond the Legend, p. 97. 5 Jean-Franois Godet thus comments in his A New Look at Clares Gospel Plan of Life. Supplement of Greyfriars Review 5 (1991) 38: It is easy to see that the Franciscan characteristic common to all three families is the observance of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In reality, every disciple of Jesus is bound to observe the Gospel. But Francis desired precisely this and nothing else, to be a disciple of Jesus, to be a true Christian, in a supremely evangelical sense. This identity was specified by Francis as well as by Clare in their respective Forms of Life, both at the beginning and at the end; henceforth, J-F. Godet, A New Look. 6 The I Order refers to the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFM Conv.), and the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap.). 7 The II Order refers to the Order of the Poor Sisters of Saint Clare (OSP[SC]), who are cloistered contemplatives. 8 The III Order Regular does not refer only to the religious institute for men, so-called TOR, but all the religious institutes of men and women of Franciscan/Clarian inspiration. 9 This is the biggest Order of the Franciscan Family, referring to the secular laity (married or not married) and the secular clergy (bishops and priests), and I would gladly add the secular institutes as well. 10 Francis of Assisi, Vol. I, The Saint of the Early Documents (ED), ed. by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv. and William J. Short OFM (New York/London/Manila: New City Press, 1999), p.100; henceforth ED, I. 11 The Lady. Clare of Assisi: Early Documents. Revised edition and translation by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap. (New York/London/Manila: New City Press, 2006 as represented by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap.), p. 109; henceforth, The Lady ED. 12 Downloaded on 27th June 2012. 13 SFO-RP edition, The Gospel Way of Life, p. 37. 14 Such categories of friars are indicated by what Francis wrote in the Earlier Rule of 1221: In the love that is God, therefore, I beg all my brothersthose who preach, pray, or work, cleric or lay (writers emphasis)to strive to humble themselves in everything or inwardly exalt themselves because of the good words and deeds or, for that matter, because of any good that God sometimes says or does or works in and through them, in keeping with what the Lord says: Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you (ER 17,5-6); ED, I, p. 75. 15 The Lady ED, pp. 48-49. 16 As noted by the ED, I on p. 578, Jacques de Vitry (c.1160/70-1240) noted preacher, historian and church leader, was a keen and often critical observer of religious life in the early thirteenth century. His writings form a uniquely valuable witness to the early Franciscan movement. Among other things, he wrote in Letter I (1216) the following, pertinent to the issue at hand: I did find, however, one source of consolation in those parts. Many well-to-do secular people of both sexes, having left all things for Christ, had fled the world. They were called Lesser Brothers and Lesser Sisters. They live according to the form of the primitive Church, During the day they go into the cities and villages giving themselves to the active life in order to gain others; at night, however, they return to their hermitage or solitary places to devote themselves to contemplation. The women dwell together near the cities in various hospices (writers emphasis!), accepting nothing, but living by the work of their hands. ED, I, pp. 579-580; cf. also The Lady ED, p. 428.


The short explanation of J-F. Godet on the dilemma of Clare when confronted by the pertinent decree of the IV Lateran Council should elucidate on the issue: Among the decrees issued by the Fou rth Lateran Ecumenical Council in 1215 was one which prohibited the writing of new Rules for religious life. However, it did not prohibit the founding of new congregations or orders with the understanding that they would adopt one of the already existing approved Rules, i.e., of Pachomius, Basil, Augustine, or Benedict. The rule of St. Francis had been approved in 1209/10, but only orally. Although its approbation had the same juridic force as a written Rule, still it was not a document which could authorize the use of the text of the Rule by other potential newly founded religious families. That the oral approbation given by Innocent III had full juridic force is attested by the fact that eight years after the Fourth Lateran Councilin 1223the Rule of St. Francis, already approved orally in 1209/10, was approved by papal Bull. When Clare saw the necessity to give a more universal import to the primitive Form of Life approved by the Bishop of Assisi, she found the way blocked by the above-mentioned conciliar decree. There was nothing left for her to do but to adopt one of the four existing Rules. By that period, however, Pachomius and Basil were too far removed from Western spiritual sensibilities to be considered; there remained only Benedict and Augustine. St. Dominic, in a situation similar to that of Clare, chose the Rule of St. Augustine, as being more suited to the apostolic character of his Order. Clare chose the Rule of Benedict (J-F. Godet, A New Look, p. 22). 18 While some monasteries had been seeking for privileges from the Holy See, Clare, true to the mind and heart of Francis, sought to have the privilege of living without privileges; thus, her earnest request to the former Cardinal Protector Hugolino, recently elected to become Pope Gregory IX, for the Privilege of Poverty, who granted it to her th on 17 September 1228. It reads so:
Gregory, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God, to his beloved daughters in Christ, Clare and the other servants of Christ gathered together in the church of San Damiano of the diocese of Assisi, health and apostolic benediction. As is evident, you have renounced the desire for all temporal things, desiring to dedicate yourselves to the Lord alone. Because of this, since you have sold all things and given them to the poor , you propose not to have possessions whatsoever, clinging in all things to the footprints of Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life Who, for our sake, was made poor. Nor does a lack of possessions frighten you from a proposal of this sort; for the left hand of the heavenly Spouse is under your head to support the weakness of your body, which you have placed under the law of your soul through an ordered charity. Finally, He who feeds the birds of the heavens and clothes the lilies of the field will not fail you in either food or clothing, until He ministers to you in heaven, when His right hand especially will more happily embrace you in the fullness of His sight. Therefore, we confirm with our apostolic authority, as you requested, your proposal of most high poverty, granting you by the authority of [those] present that no one can compel you to receive possessions. Therefore, let no one be permitted to tamper with this document of our concession or dare to oppose it with rash temerity. If anyone shall presume to attempt this, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and His blessed apostles, Peter and Paul. Given at Perugia, on the fifteenth of the Kalends of October, in the second year of our pontificate (The Lady, ED, pp.87-88).

The editor Regis J. Armstrong OFM Cap.s comment on this document is worth taking into consideration: When studying the events of the following years, however, we might wonder if he was thoroughly aware of or committed to the implications of his decree, for he subsequently offered relaxations and dispensations to the Poor Ladies at San Damiano and elsewhere. Clare, then, petitioned that the Privilege be conceded to the other monasteries attempting to follow her form of life (The Lady ED, p. 87). 19 At the conclusion of the said Congress, the then President of the USG, Bro. lvaro Rodrguez Echeverra, FSC, delivered his talk The Enchantment of Consecrated Life, Passion for Christ, Passion for Humanity. Acts of the Congress on Consecrated Life (Pasay City, RP: Paulines 2005), pp. 257-267. Among other things he averred very strongly this concern for the centrality of Jesus in consecrated life: I believe that we have all made a n extraordinary effort in recovering our charisms and congregational spirit, but I am not so sure that our highest rule is the Gospel. The DT, when speaking about the new model of Consecrated Life that is emerging, took up the Councils invitation to take up again the Gospel as the first rule. There could be an objection made that the charism is designed to reveal the different facets or the richness of Jesus Christ, which nothing nor no one can embrace in its totality. This is true. But there is a world of difference between holding something up as the means when it is really the end and holding something up as the end when it is really the means (p. 260).

20 21

M. Bartoli, Saint Clare beyond the Legend, p. 125. Ibid., pp. 128-130. 22 Ibid., p. 130. 23 Ibid., p. 131. 24 Ibid., pp. 131-132. 25 Even the name of the II Order is contentious. It was the will of Clare that her Order be called the Order of Poor Sisters. Later, however, Pope Urban IV imposed the name of the Order of Saint Clare (OSC). In J-F. Godets commentary, A New Look, pp. 30-31, he writes: in 1263 the Order of St. Clare was juridically established. In his Bull of approbation the Pope addressed himself to all the Damianite monasteries in order to unite them under one and the same Rule, with the purpose of promoting the unanimity that Clare herself had been unable to attain. At the same time he wished to establish a single juridic entity, the Order of St. Clare, which could thus assume a form analogous to the Order of St. Benedict. It was on this occasion that the official name Order of St. Clare was coined. Various other names existed previously: Clare wished that it be called the Order of Poor Sisters, but in fact other names were used, such as Poor Ladies or Damianites. The team of the Poor-Sister commentators discusses this issue within the question of the lesser brothers care for the poor sisters and the promulgation of the Rule of Urban IV for the so-called Poor Clares; cf. Federazione S. Chiara di Assisi delle Clarisse di Umbria Sardegna, Chiara di Assisi. Una Vita Prende Forma, Vol. II of Secundum Perfectionem Sancti Evangelii, La forma di vita dellOrdine delle Sorelle Povere. Iter storico (Padova: Edizioni Messagero, 2005), p. 117. 26 The Earlier Rule of Francis thus begins:
The rule and life of these brothers is this, namely: to live in obedience, in chastity, and without anything of their own, and to follow the teaching and foot prints of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who says: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. And: If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Again: If anyone wishes to come to me and does not hate father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters. And even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And: Everyone who has left father or mother, brother or sisters, wife or children, houses or lands because of me, will receive a hundredfold and will possess eternal life (ER 1,1-5); cf. ED I, pp. 63-64.


This is part of the feedback to the article, given by Friedrich Doormann through email on 2 August 2012. He even made a contemporary application of this social formula of Christian community by stating: For members of the culture of the Indian continent, including Sri Lanka, that would mean: there is no Singhalese, nor Moslem, nor Tamil; no upper caste nor lower caste; no male dominance nor female serfdom; no indebtedness of the families because of the marriage of their daughters. 28 Only after alleging his intimacy with Francis, Pope Gregory IX came out with his authoritative interpretation of his Rule and Life amidst the contending parties of the Franciscan fraternity, which was becoming then more institutionalised:
Since you are doubtful in regards to your obligation to observe this Testament, you have asked us to remove the uncertainty from your conscience and that of your brothers. For as a result of the long-standing friendship between the holy confessor and ourselves, we know his mind more fully. Furthermore, while we held a lesser rank, we stood by him both as he composed the aforesaid Rule and obtained its confirmation from the Apostolic See. And so you have petitioned us for a clarification of the doubtful and obscure points in the Rule, together with a response to the difficulties (Quo elongati 4); cf. ED I, p.571.


This vision is narrated by the third witness to the process of canonization of Saint Clare, Sr. Filippa di Ghislerio (PC III 93-98) and is alluded to also by the fourth witness, Sr. Amata of Coccorano (PC IV 51), the sixth witness, Sr. Cecilia of Spoleto (VI 37), and finally by the seventh witness, Sr. Balvina of Coccorano (VII 21). Here is what Sr. Filippa says:
Lady Clare also related how once, in a vision, it seemed to her she brought a bowl of hot water to Saint Francis along with a towel for drying his hands. She was climbing a very high stairway, but was going very quickly, almost as though she were going on level ground. When she reached Saint Francis, the saint bared his breast and said to the Lady Clare: Come, take, and drink. After she had sucked from it, t he saint admonished her to imbibe once again. After she did so what she had tasted was so sweet and delightful she in no way could describe it. After she had imbibed, that nipple or opening of the breast from which the milk comes remained between the lips of blessed Clare. After she took what remained in her mouth in her hands, it seemed to her it was gold so clear and bright that everything was seen in it as in a mirror (Regis J.

Armstrong, OFM Cap., The Lady. Clare of Assisi: Early Documents [revised edition and translation] {New York/London/Manila: New City Press, 2006}, p. 161 (henceforth, The Lady ED). The writer of Clares official biography, commissioned by Pope Innocent IV, must have known this since it is contained in the Acts of the Canonisation Process. But he must be in a quandary what to make of such an embarrassing narrative, for he never mentioned it at all in such biography. Marco Bartoli in his book Saint Clare of Assisi [translated by Sister Frances Teresa Downing OSC and Foreword by Brian Purfield OFM (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1993 The Community of Poor Clares, Arundel, West Sussex), pp. 150-157], has dealt with it giving his own interpretation of the dream or vision (henceforth M. Bartoli, Saint Clare of Assisi). 30 M. Bartoli, Saint Clare beyond the Legend, p.101. As Bartoli says in this his recent work on Clare, she told the vision to all her sisters, for whom it must not be a cause of embarrassment but even a sign of her holiness ( Ibid., p. 100). 31 Ibid., pp.101-102 32 Ibid., p.102. The same author deduces from this dream that on its own it would be enough to demonstrate the depth and spiritual liberty which characterized the rapport between Clare and Francis. Nonetheless, he notes that here too their relationship seems asymmetrical since from the time of Francis death in 1226 until her own death in 1253, she transformed herself into a watchful witness of the blessed fathers memory ( Ibid., pp. 102103). 33 But since the Lord was very near and, as it were, already standing at the door, she wished the priests and her spiritual brothers to stand by and read the Passion of the Lord and holy words. When Brother Juniper appeared among them, that excellent jester of the Lord who uttered the Lords words which were often warming, she was filled with a new joy and asked him if he had anything new from the Lord. When he opened his mouth, he burst forth with words that were like burning sparks coming from the furnace of his fervent heart. The virgin of the Lord took great comfort in his parables. Those two blessed companions of the blessed Francis were standing there: Angelo was one of them who, while mourning himself, consoled those who were mourning; the other was Leo who kissed the bed of the dying woman. The Lady ED, p. 316. 34 Marco Bartoli, Saint Clare of Assisi, p. 137. 35 In a future study, we hope to show how Clare very ingeniously crafted her Form of Life in such a way that she really stood at loggerheads with the deceased Pope Grego ry IX, interpreter of Francis mind and spirit, as expressed in his Rule and Life. Thereby, she reproached the learned brothers for their betrayal of their identity as lesser brothers. 36 th It is noteworthy that the papal Bull Solet annuere (9 August 2153) of Pope Innocent IV, approving the Form of Life of Clare of Assisi has retained even the previous approval of it by Cardinal Rainaldo, the Cardinal Protector:
Innocent, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God, to his beloved daughters in Christ, Clare, Abbess, and the other sisters of the monastery of San Damiano in Assisi, health and apostolic blessing. The Apostolic See is accustomed to accede to the pious requests and to be favorably disposed to grant the praiseworthy desires of its petitioners. Thus, We have before Us your humble request that We confirm by Our Apostolic authority the form of life that Blessed Francis gave you and which you have freely accepted. According to [this form of life] you should live together in unity of spirits and in the profession of highest poverty. Our venerable brother, the Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, has seen fit to approve this way of life, as the Bishops own letters on this matter define more fully, and We have taken care to strengthen it with Our Apostolic protection. Attentive, therefore, to your devout prayers, We approve and ratify what the Bishop has done in this matter and confirm it in virtue of Our Apostolic authority and support it in this document. To this end We include herein the text of the Bishop, word for word, which is the following: Rainaldo, by divine mercy Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, to his most dear mother and daughter in Christ, the Lady Clare, Abbess of San Damiano in Assisi, and to her sisters, both present and to come, greetings and a fatherly blessing. Beloved daughters in Christ, we approve your holy proposal in the Lord and we desire with fatherly affection to impart our kind favor upon your wishes and holy desires, because you have rejected the splendors and pleasures of the world and, following the footprints of Christ Himself and His most holy Mother, you have chosen to live bodily enclosed and to serve the Lord in the highest poverty that, in freedom of soul, you may be servant of the Lord. Acceding to your pious prayers, by the authority of the Lord Pope as well as our own, we, therefore, confirm forever for all of you and for all who will succeed you in your monastery, and we ratify by the protection of this document this form of life, the manner of holy unity and of the highest poverty that your blessed Father Saint Francis gave you for your observance in word and in writing. It is as follows: The Lady ED, pp. 108-109.

Bienvenido Q. Baisas ofm, Clare, a Valiant Woman of Unfailing Prize, CTC No. 39, p.39.

38 39

Jos Rodrguez Carballo OFM, Look always to your beginning, pp. 54-61. This gazing at the Mirror; namely, Jesus Christ Crucified, was Clares way of contemplating towards becoming what or better whom she contemplated. She expressed this in her last two letters to Agnes of Prague, her friend and companion in the Gospel way of holy unity through expropriation. 40 Cf. Note 35 above giving the introductory letter to Clares Form of Life: According to [this form of life] you should live together in unity of spirits and in the profession of highest poverty (writers emphasis!) It should be noted that this double aspect of Clarian life is repeated twice in the letter, though in a shorter form in the earlier approval of the said Form of Life by the Cardinal Protector Rainaldo, the Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, which was integrated in Pope Innocent IVs letter (Prol. RCl 1-2). The footnote b. in The Lady ED, p. 108, significantly states that Here Pope Innocent combines the charism of unity of mind and heart with that of the profession of the highest poverty. This double aspect is seen as the foundation for the form of life that St. Clare and her sisters have embraced. 41 M. Bartoli, Saint Clare beyond the Legend, pp. 134-135. 42 Ian Hoeberichts in a rather recent book, Francis and Islam (Quincy, IL: Franciscan Press, 1997) has made a thorough study on the context of the mission chapter of Francis Earlier Rule of 1221 and a contextual exegesis of this same sixteenth chapter. In it, he presents Francis of Assisis attitude to Saracens as a model of interreligious dialogue, in the light of which he examined the state of contemporary Christian-Muslim dialogue. At the end of the contextual exegesis he presented twelve concluding remarks. Though all of them are pertinent to our present discourse, the very last one, I believe, sums them up all:
By emphasizing that the brothers must avoid arguments and disputes and be subject to the Saracens for Gods sake, Francis clearly indicated that he and his brothers were not motivated by a d esire for martyrdom when by divine inspiration they went among the Saracens. However, when the brothers were treated with hostility on their mission of peace and even threatened with persecution, they would not try to escape such a situation, but face it patiently and with great perseverance, after the example of Jesus. Just as Jesus gave his body on the cross in obedience to the Father and continues to do so in the eucharist, in order to restore the paradise that was lost because of sin and to gather all people around the table of the Lord, so for love of Jesus the brothers must give their bodies in humble service to continue the Fathers work of creation and redemption and to establish true peace among Christians and Saracens and all people. This task is still valid now: to build an oikumene of peace where the greeting of peace which Jesus gave to his followers is answered by the Muslim wish of peace, salaam, and Christians and Muslims together witness in word and deed to the greatness and goodness of God so that everyone may know that there is no one who is allpowerful except God (LetOrder 9). In this way Francis wish will be fulfilled that at every hour and whenever the bells are rung, praise and thanks always be given to the all-powerful God by all the people throughout the whole world (1 LetCust 8).

43 44

M. Bartoli, Saint Clare beyond the Legend, p. 135. The erstwhile suitor testifies thus: Because she had a beautiful face. A husband was considered for her. Many of her relatives begged her to accept them as a husband, but she never wanted to consent. Since the witness himself had many times asked her to be willing to consent to this, she did not even want to hear him; moreover, she preached to him of despising the world. Asked how he knew the things mentioned, he replied: because his wife was a relative of Lady Clare and since the witness conversed confidentially with her in her house and saw her good deeds (PC XVIII:2-3); cf. The Lady. ED, pp. 193-194. 45 Clares biographer writes thus:
A no less marvelous defense followed this conversion. For while the joyous sisters were clinging to the footprints of Chris t in the church of San Angelo in Panzo and she who had heard more from the Lord was teaching her novice-sister, new attacks by relatives were quickly flaring up against the young girls. The next day, hearing that Agnes had gone off to Clare, twelve men, burning wit h anger and hiding outwardly their evil intent, ran to the place [and] pretended [to make] a peaceful entrance. Immediately they turned to Agnes, since they had long ago lost hope of Clare, and said: Why have you come to this place? Get ready to return immediately with us! When she responded that she did not want to leave her sister Clare, one of the knights in a fierce mood ran toward her and, without sparing blows and kicks, tried to drag her away by her hair, while the others pushed her and lifted her in their arms. At this, as if she had been captured by lions and been torn from the hands of the Lord, the young girl cried out: Dear siste r, help me! Do not let me be taken from Christ the Lord! While the violent robbers were dragging the young girl along the slope of the mountain, ripping her clothes and strewing the path with the hair [they had] torn out, Clare prostrated herself in

prayer with tears, begged that her sister would be given constancy of mind and that the strength of humans would be overcome by divine power. Suddenly, in fact, *Agness+ body lying on the ground seemed so heavy that the men, many *as there were+, exerted all their energy and were not able to carry her beyond a certain stream. Even others, running from their field and vineyards, attempted to give them some help, but they in no way could lift that body from the earth. When they failed, they shrugged off the miracle by mocking: She has been eating lead all night; no wonder she is so heavy! Then Lord Monaldus, her enraged uncle intended to strike her a lethal blow; [but] an awful pain suddenly struck the hand he had raised and for a long time the anguish of pain afflicted it. But, notice after the long struggle, Clare came to the place and asked her relatives to give up such a conflict and to entrust Agnes, half-dead on the ground, to her care. After they departed with a bitter spirit at their unfinished business, Agnes got up joyfully and, already rejoicing in the cross of Christ for which she had struggled in this first battle, gave herself perpetually to the divine service. In fact, blessed Francis cut off her hair with his own hand and directed her together with her sister in the way of the Lord (LegCl 24-26); cf. The Lady ED, pp. 302-304.
46 47

This is another feedback of Friedrich Doorman in his email message of 2 August 2012. Ibid. 48 Precisely this was the whole concern of Gerhard Lohfink in his book Jesus and Community. The Social Dimension of Christian Faith [trans. by John P. Galvin (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), xii+212 pp.


Bienvenido Q. Baisas OFM & Frances Teresa Downing OSP(SC)