Wednesday’s Women: Clare and Agnes of Assisi

by Melanie on June 21, 2017

in Catholicism, Nonfiction, Saints, Sisterhood of Saints, Spirituality, Wednesday's Woman

Note: For the next several weeks I’ll be featuring women saints who knew each other personally–mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, sisters, and friends.

The Basics: Clare of Assisi, born July 16, 1194, in Italy; died August 11, 1253, in Italy; canonized September 11, 1253, by Alexander IV; feast day August 11. Woman religious. Agnes of Assisi, born about

St. Agnes of Assisi

1197 in Italy; died November 16, 1253, in Italy; canonized in 1753 by Benedict XIV; feast day November 16. Woman religious.

The Story: They were of an age, Clare and Catharine (later renamed Agnes by Francis of Assisi), where most sisters talk about attractive young man, fashion, and maybe music or a bit of gossip. But these sisters had more important things to discuss among themselves. Clare was just fifteen when she heard Francis preach during a lenten service… and decided she needed to be involved in the spirituality he espoused. By mid-March, she had left her family to join him. Sixteen days later, Catharine, who was around thirteen, left as well. The family was even less pleased about her departure. But ultimately, the relatives relented. Francis established a cloister at San Damiano for the sisters that would become the Order of Poor Ladies and, after Clare’s death, the Poor Clares. (Their mother and another sister eventually joined as well.) Clare and Agnes shared a deep spirituality, and a gift for administration and leading women. In 1221, Clare, by then the San Damiano abbess, sent Agnes to lead a community 100 miles away in Florence. But while the sisters were parted for

St. Clare of Assisi

some time doing the Lord’s work, they eventually reunited. Agnes nursed Clare in her final days, and died herself about three months later.

Their Wisdom: Agnes in a letter to Clare from the abbey in Florence: “… there is very great tribulation and immense sorrow in my flesh and spirit… because I am separated in body from you and my other sisters with whom I believed I would live and die in this world. … (However,) you can rejoice with me that I have found great harmony not schism/conflict, beyond what could be believed, and all received me with great happiness and joy and promised me obedience most devoutly with reverence.”

What We Can Learn from Their Friendship: We may have more in common spiritually with our sisters than we realize. Consider scheduling time with your sister, or someone who’s like a sister, to discuss your religious beliefs.

To Learn More About Them: Check out the site for the Basilica of St. Clare of Assisi, where the remains of the sisters and Francis reside.

To Learn More About Other Women Saints and Blesseds: Come back next week, or consider buying my book, Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration.

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