CELEBRATING THE POOR CLARES: On Palm Sunday, 17 April, the Franciscan Family began a year of gratitude and reflection as we celebrate the 800 Anniversary of the beginning of Poor Clare Order. On the night of Palm Sunday of 1211, Clare, a young noble woman of Assisi, fled from her father’s home in order to go to the little Church of the Porziuncula below Assisi, where Francis and his friars lived. There she consecrated her life to the Lord.
She desired to follow the Gospel vision that inspired St Francis, and she embarked on a life of penance and consecration which, at the time, was unusual and original. Her period of penance began at the Monastery of the Benedictine Sisters of St. Paul, then at the Church of Sant’Angelo of Panzo, and lastly at the little Church of San Damiano of Assisi. It was here that Clare began receiving different young women of the area and soon after from different social background and from all over the continent.
Clare and her sisters began a few form of religious life within the Church. In fact she was the first medieval woman to draw up a rule for women, thus giving rise to a movement of extraordinary importance for the life of both the Church and the world.
We are now in the happy circumstance of celebrating 800 years of the founding of the Order of St. Clare. The 8th centenary will be celebrated with many spiritual and cultural events throughout the world. The first was a procession and vigil that took place in Assisi on the night of 16 April. It started at the Cathedral of St. Rufino of Assisi where the giving of the palm to St Clare was recalled. The procession then make a stop at the proto-monastery of St. Clare before proceeding toward the Porziuncula where the Minister General of the Order of Friars, successor of St. Francis, welcomed the people and concluded the vigil.
This special “year” of grace will conclude on 11 August 2012, the feast of St Clare.