Clare the Ever Bright One

by Sister Julie Ann on August 11, 2008

dscf1247.JPGWhen you picture St. Clare, what color do you imagine her Francisan habit to be? A stain glass window at the Shrine of Nations at the Cathedral of St. Paul offers a brilliant, metaphorical chromatic image on this feast of a 13th century saint who was the first religious woman to write her own rule of life. The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity invite you to join us in celebrating this woman of courage and shining blessedness.

Named ‘bright’ or ‘light’ by her mother Ortolana, Clare did not change her name after answering the call to be a consecrated woman . Rather, she was called to live out her baptismal name and commitment with greater transparency and lucidity. Her parents’ choice of a name was this noble Lady in Christ’s lifetime destiny. This passage from The Third Letter to Blessed Agnes of Praque summarizes her spiritual direction:

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!

Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!

Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!

And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead


through contemplation!

So that you too may feel what His friends feel

as they taste the hidden sweetness

which God Himself has reserved

from the beginning

for those who love Him.

St. Francis, whose Gospel ideals Clare matched wtih feminine clarity and faithfulness, also did not feel called to abandon his family’s  given name. This merchant’s son embraced the name his father Pietro preferred, rather than his mother’s pious John bearing homage to John the Baptist. As Arnaldo Fortini writes in Francis of Assisi:

So the baby was called Francesco-or as we know him, Francis. It also must have been by divine will, though, that he was given that singular and unconventional name, one that was a proclamation of the qualities most admired in that century, and that by this name he should find everlasting glory.

Today provides an occasion to contemplate the name (s) that you are affectionately called by your family. What special memories do you hold of others calling you by name? Does your name(s) challenge you to greatness, holiness?

3 thoughts on “Clare the Ever Bright One”

  1. Yesterday I was one among many at a family reunion. At one of these gatherings, one is reminded that not only is your own name precious, but being the daughter of someone else carries with it the priceless prospect of door prizes, poses with cousins who were once childhood playmates or the ultimate–being one of those responsible for planning the next multi-generational fun day. It was a sacred time of sharing memories, but also seeing once again glimpses of my own grandparents in the faces of the generations.

  2. Michelle Hess says:

    When I was a kid, I hated my name because people always used to follow me around singing the Beatles song, “Michelle”. It got to the point in second grade when I found out my parents almost named me Gretchen that I tried to abandon my name altogether and become Gretchen Louise instead. Years later, in high school, I discovered that Michelle means “woman of God” and is the female form of Michael. St. Michael is such an awesome warrior for God that I became really proud of my name and thankful for it. Now I am striving to live up to my name!

  3. Michelle, you are right. Your name is powerful, and bears great promise for growth . Me, I’ve always liked my name. “Julie” is often marketed in lettered, tassled bookmarks as the “youthful one”. However, I think the connotation of “jewel” is closer to how precious I feel bearing that name, an identity my parents chose just for me. Thanks for your comment. Peace and all good.

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