This year the feast of St Clare on 11 August is of particular importance for the Franciscan Family spread throughout the world. At this time we are celebrating 800 years since that night when this noble woman, eighteen years old, secretly left her family home and went to join Francis and his first few followers. In the little chapel of the Our Lady of the Angels in the woods below Assisi she handed her life over to God.
Clare did not know it but that simple ritual in which she knelt before Francis and consecrated herself to her Beloved was the beginning of a new way of life within the church. Before she died 42 years later there would be 115 communities of sisters in Italy and 50 outside living her Gospel vision.
That night Clare was following her heart's deepest desire. She allowed herself to be drawn by the Spirit. This woman, strong in faith and love, said a full Yes to Christ.
In time Clare was to discover, as many have before and since, that when we let God have his way with us his love works in us and through us far beyond our hoping.
Pope Benedict, speaking of Clare, wondered about the paradox of her life. Hidden within the cloister, her light shone; Clare was silent but her influence was profound.
He goes on to say: 'And this is exactly how it was, dear friends: those who change the world for the better are the holy ones, those enraptured by God's love. They transform our world permanently, instilling in it the energies that only love inspired by the Gospel can elicit. The saints are humanity's great benefactors; God's gift to the world!'