“For within a short time the reputation of the holiness of the virgin Clare had spread through the neighboring areas.” —The Legend of St. Clare
Sometimes it can be hard to be the first to do something. We hold back for any number of reasons. We might be afraid of making a mistake or of being ridiculed. After the first person takes the leap, though, we become more comfortable joining in. But what if that first person hadn’t found the strength to put things into motion? Clare was that first person. She was brave enough to take the first step so that other women could follow.
Gaze | Consider | Contemplate | Imitate
In Assisi, the knowledge that Clare was rejecting marriage proposals and that she seemed bent on a religious path was becoming a matter of public speculation. We do not know when the first encounter between Clare and Francis took place. Since her home stood beside the Cathedral of San Rufino, she could have heard him preach there. His frequent preaching appointments inside the city walls stirred a universal interest.
The friars were never far away physically. And we can well imagine that they were never far from conversation—whether of argument or admiration. After all, among the earliest to enlist (in addition to Rufino) were Bernard of Quintavalle, an attorney, and Sylvester, a priest of the diocese. Clare breathed the very air that was filled with the new evangelical energy of St. Francis.
For his part, Francis clearly knew Clare’s reputation, the beautiful woman who was irritating the Offreducio patriarchs with her delaying tactics during courtship. The reputation of her saintly mother and of this exceptionally pious daughter would not have been a secret to a native of Assisi. Could she be the answer to his prayers about how to answer the women who wanted to participate in this new movement of Gospel living? —from Light of Assisi: The Story of Saint Clare
Thank you for your courage in stepping
ahead and forging a path for others so
that they could also share in the joy you were seeking.