Clare was the noble and lofty tree bringing forth
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.
mind, docile in spirit, keen in perception
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 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