Great Ladies
of the
Poor Clares

Beatrice of Assisi
(c.1200 - 1260)

O God,
by whose mercy
Beatrice of
Assisi
persevered in imitating Christ,
poor and lowly,
grant us through her intercession that,
faithfully walking
 in our own vocation,
we may reach the perfection
You have set before us in Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.

 

    T

   "She Is My Sister"

    A question frequently asked of witnesses at a Process of Canonization is “How do you know this?”  Few can confirm their testimony concerning a potential saint by replying as Beatrice di Favarone did: “Because she is my sister!” Who was Beatrice’s illustrious sibling?  The woman we now call St. Clare of Assisi.

 Little is known about the youngest of the three daughters of the knight Favarone di Offreduccio and the Lady Ortolana, except that she lived with her saintly sister in the monastery of San Damiano for 24 years, a fact we learn directly from Beatrice’s testimony at the Process.

 It seems that she was still a child in March 1212 when Clare fled their parental home to begin her Gospel adventure.  Beatrice witnessed firsthand the fury of their knightly clan over Clare’s vocational choice.  She was also caught up in her sister’s fervent response to the Gospel injunction to sell ALL in order to follow Christ.  Clare not only sold ALL of her share of the family inheritance but part of Beatrice’s too.  Perhaps this was Clare’s way of assuring her youngest sister that they would be reunited one day in following the poor Christ! 

By the time Beatrice entered the monastery in 1229, her big sister was already the cornerstone of a flourishing religious Order.  Her other sister, Agnes, was likewise known for her generous adherence to the Gospel form of enclosed life that Clare was living so heroically.  Their mother Ortolana had also joined the community of San Damiano, living out the final years of her life in prayer and penance. Beatrice’s entrance completed the family circle, so to speak, and witnessed to the beauty of familial love united and purified in the service of God. 

While Beatrice told her canonical examiners that she could not adequately speak of her sister’s goodness, she nonetheless gave a comprehensive summary of Clare’s sanctity.  In doing so, she also highlighted what was most important in her own life as a Poor Sister: humility, patience, kindness, perseverance in prayer, forgetfulness of self, fervent love of the Lord, her sisters and the whole human family.

 By the time Beatrice of Assisi died in 1260, she had had the joy of seeing her eldest sister proclaimed a saint.  She knew of the many miracles worked through Clare’s intercession.  She could also thank God daily for the privilege of being able to say of one who inspired and supported her on her own life’s path, “She is my sister!”

 

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