Today the Church honors St. Claire who died on this day in 1255 at age 59. Of the nobility of Assisi, she was born there fifteen years after St. Francis. At twelve she gained the right to postpone a planned marriage until she was older. Then, at eighteen when her father had her marriage ready, she came on a thirty-three-year-old Francis who was physically restoring the abandoned old church of St. Damiano.
They both saw the old ruin as a metaphor for the Catholic Church that was falling into moral decay through its love of wealth and pomp. Francis, through his early youth, had been crazy over stories of knights on noble quests; so then, after his conversion, he became God’s knight. His knightly quest became his bringing the Church back to the values of a Jesus who had nowhere to lay his head.
Claire’s father was dangling before her the prospect of a wealthy marriage with both country and city estates. But, on fire with the higher quest that consumed Francis, Claire shaved her head, donned a coarse black robe, and took up residence in a hovel where she waited on further instructions from God.