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  • Writer's pictureMary Beth Keenan

Celebrating Saint Clare’s Individuality

I came to know of Saint Clare of Assisi through Saint Francis. I have always been drawn to nature, the call of simple living resonates, and my family are members of a Franciscan parish. Saint Francis is truly a patron to our family.

As a feminist, I loved the idea of him having a female counterpart, a sister of sorts on his spiritual journey in 13th century Italy. I appreciate that she is included during the consecration at our parish as a co-patron with Saint Francis. I too started including her in my prayers with Saint Francis, always as a teammate.

Recently though, I have felt a pull to get to know her individually. Yes, it is wonderful to have her included with Saint Francis, but a more feminist look at the saints of Assisi would allow her to stand alone in her own legacy.

At first, I was a bit disappointed that she was not known for communing with our non-human siblings the same way Francis was. Care for creation is what initially drew me to Saint Francis and I had hoped to share that same deep connection with Saint Clare. Yet, her legacy lives with the holy poverty aspect of Franciscan spirituality.

After leaving behind a wealthy lifestyle and parents who wanted her to marry young, Clare founded a convent in the style of Saint Francis. Saint Clare saw joyful and intentional poverty as a centerpiece to the growing community. Through varied levels of support from Church hierarchy, she firmly held on to this call. She stood her ground with popes and bishops that worried women weren’t up to the challenge of the lifestyle. She wrote a unique Rule of Life for the order (the first one written by a woman) that included a strict vow of poverty. She received word of the Rule’s official approval the day before she died.

Now I look to Saint Clare when I need strength in standing up for what I believe is right, especially in the context of our Church. She held on to her convictions, the call she received from God, and did not let the men in charge overpower her. Saint Clare inspires me to get to know the Gospel and lives of saints more deeply, so that when I feel the movement of the Holy Spirit in my own life, I can stand firmly in my convictions.


Mary Beth seeks the glory of God in all of creation, especially wildflowers. Follow her @mb_keenan.15 for more reflections on mental health, motherhood, and caring for creation.

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