“This woman, noble by birth, but nobler by manner of life, eminently preserved the virginity she had already protected from the first under this rule of holiness.” —Papal Decree of Canonization
As a noble woman, Clare would have been expected to marry for the sake of uniting upper-class families in Assisi. She repeatedly rebuffed suitors, however, to the frustration of her family. One of her suitors even gave his testimony during her cause for canonization, saying she told him of her intention to be a bride of Christ. Clare’s determination not to bow to societal norms certainly was not embraced by her family. But it is a good reminder that sometimes we know the paths of our lives best and must follow our hearts.
Gaze | Consider | Contemplate | Imitate
While women might be married as early as the age of fifteen, once a woman reached eighteen, the marriage plan moved into high gear. The family initiated the period of courtship. To its chagrin, Clare rejected more than one suitor. During the investigation for her canonization one of these rejected suitors, Raineri di Bernardo, gave his testimony. Clare rejected his multiple offers of marriage.
Instead, she urged him to join her in seeking a life of dedication to Christ. A man whose proposal she rejected carried that memory for forty years but lived to swear to her holiness and help insure her speedy canonization.
It was becoming obvious to anxious family leaders that Clare had already decided that her life would not follow the expected path. She was strongly set upon another route whose contours were as yet unclear. This time of testing in the crucible of family pressure showed that she possessed a singular sense of self, a self already captivated by a summons from beyond earth’s kingdoms. —from Light of Assisi: The Story of Saint Clare
In you we see a woman who
is steadfast in her desires for her life.
In that spirit, may we be fiercely protective
of the life we believe will bring us joy.