Clare was the noble and lofty tree bringing forth

THE SWEET FRUIT OF FAITH

 In a Household of the Faith
(Mark 1:15)

            St. Clare of Assisi was a woman of faith.  The words of the pope who canonized her in 1255 still ring true today: So many students of the faith ran and still run from everywhere to learn from her how to allow their faith to become a life-directing and life-transforming reality.  More than eight centuries after her birth, pilgrims to Assisi are shown where St. Clare’s faith journey began – the baptismal font in the Cathedral of San Rufino.

  For Christians, a special gratitude is due
to those from whom they have received the gift of faith,

         
the grace of Baptism and life in the Church.
(CATECHISM, 2220)

The Seraphic Mother cultivated a deep sense of gratitude for the gift of faith which lasted until her dying day.  But, she herself would begin by pointing us back to the “good soil” where the seed of her faith was planted, tended and flourished: her deeply Christian home.

           Little is known about St. Clare’s father, the knight Favarone di Offreduccio.  However, history has bequeathed to us some precious details about her mother, the Lady Ortolana.  Alert in mind, docile in spirit, keen in perception (VERSIFIED LEGEND), Ortolana was well known for her deep faith.  And it was a faith that she did not keep to herself. The early sources testify that the young Clare received her faith from the mouth of her mother, confirming how diligently Ortolana attended to the duty of evangelizing her children and of being to them the first herald of the mysteries of the faith. (cf. CATECHISM, 2225)

Ortolana did not confine her children’s “faith training” to the learning of doctrine, though.  She who was called a friend of piety also gave them an outstanding example of religious devotion, manifested especially in her faithful and fervent recourse to prayer and in her frequent pilgrimages to Christian shrines and holy places.  It is not surprising, then, that her eldest daughter began at an early age to hold the pursuit of holy prayer as a friend – even to keeping count of the Our Fathers she prayed with a little pile of pebbles!

 St. Clare’s faith training went a step further.  Ortolana had a well-deserved reputation for generosity to the poor, and she initiated her three daughters at an early age in the Christian art of expressing their faith in God and their love for God through concrete acts of self-giving and self-denial.  She, by her works, showed them her faith (cf. James 2:18), and her good example was not lost on Clare who soon began sending food and alms to the poor through a trusted friend. 

Thus from her earliest years, Clare of Assisi experienced firsthand how faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. (Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, 7)  She shows what sweet and enduring fruit of faith can come forth when family catechesis precedes, accompanies and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. (CATECHISM, 2226)   May her prayers and those of Ortolana, her mother, help us all to profess our faith in the Risen Lord…in our homes and in our families so that everyone may experience a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times.
(Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, 8)

  HOME            BACK