About St. Francis
Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone (St. Francis of Assisi) was born in 1182 in Assisi, Italy. Raised in both wealth and luxury, the popular Francis spent his youth on pleasurable activities. Yet, Francis turned his back on all worldly goods and pleasures to serve God, live a life of poverty, and tend to those most in need.
Francis often gave his last food and warmest clothes to the poor. People questioned . . . why had a merchant’s son traded his fashionable clothes for the rags of a beggar? Why was this popular playboy hanging out with lepers? Francis did not set out to be a saint, he simply wanted to imitate the life of Christ and to follow in his footsteps. Yet, his passionate faith soon started a movement that is still evident today, 800 years after his death.
From: The Lessons of St. Francis by John Michael Talbot with Steve Rabey
About St. Clare
Born in 1193 into a wealthy and noble family, even at a young age, Clare was known for her beauty, and pious nature. Although her family made numerous plans for her to marry, she refused all suiters, and insisted on devoting herself to a spiritual life. It was midnight of Palm Sunday in 1211, that she fled her family with the help of Francis and his companions to begin her life consecrated to God. At that time, fleeing was an insult to nobility. Her family sent four male members of the family, all proud knights, to demand that Clare return home. Their efforts were unsuccessful. The young girl would not give in to their threats. Removing her veil, they realized, gone was her beautiful blond hair. Displaying her shaven head clearly meant she was consecrated to God. The knights knew kidnapping her and returning her to her family meant their excommunication from the church.
From that time on, Clare devoted her life to prayer, penance and serving the poor. She understood very well the poverty Francis chose. It was not a social staement, but rather a virtue that made one closer to Christ. Clare’s importance grew inside Franciscan life. She attracted many women to her type of penitential life, and established a religious order known as the Poor Clares.
[St. Clare of Assisi-Gianmaria Polidoro. Publisher: General Secretariat of the Franciscan Missions]