When 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
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?