Phew! What a scorcher and how my grass has turned to straw and all I can do to tidy the lawns is to hoover with the mower. We are constantly going into the garden with grey water to give life to wilting shrubs and spending hours each week watering, to save all the hard work that had been done in the spring. Oh yes, the last couple of days have seen some rain but not enough and next week we are back to higher temperatures and no rain. Possible 47 degrees in central Spain. We are constantly reminded of wild fires with loss of life and property around the world, plus other natural disasters that have killed and displaced so many people. It is so strange that we all yearn for summer sun and when we do get it we moan about it?
On the 11 August we remember St Clare of Assisi, patron saint of good weather, who founded the Order of Poor Clares, which is the second order of Franciscans. Clare was born into a noble family in Assisi 1193. She was a very beautiful young lady and her family had very high hopes of an arranged marriage with some other noble family. But this was not to be.
Clare had been influenced by a little man named Francis, whose Lenten sermons had so influenced her, she began to seek another way of life, refusing her family’s wishes for her to marry, renouncing all possessions and wealth. She pleaded with Francis to allow her to join his order, but as a woman, this was impossible. Francis did arrange for her to become a member of a local Benedictine convent. Clare fled the family home and went with Francis to the convent. As you can imagine, her family were incensed, her brothers rushing to the convent to fetch her back. After days of pleading Clare refused to yield and as a last act of defiance stood by the altar and revealed her shaved head to her family, clearly stating she no longer belonged to the world, but to Christ alone.
Clare was insistent she wanted to follow Francis and his brothers minor, so she accepted a small house adjacent to the church of San Damiano. Francis appointed Clare as Abbess, who would govern the same convent for forty years without ever leaving it. Her way of life like Francis was marked by poverty, austerity and relied entirely on alms, serving only the poor and Christ. The sisters wore no stockings, shoes or sandals, slept on the hard floor and wore hair shirts, ate only simple food and no meat. Even Francis found her life style too severe and ordered her to sleep on a mattress and to eat some bread every day.
Although very austere, Clare’s order of sisters soon spread throughout Europe and later established convents in other parts of the world and are known as the Second Order of Franciscan, living an enclosed life. Clare was made a saint in 1255, two years after her death. She is the patron saint of embroidery, good weather, those in child birth and those suffering from diseases of the eye. In 1958 she was also declared the patron saint of TV! This was because Pope Pius X11 said, on one Christmas Eve, when Clare lay sick in bed, she saw the crib and heard singing just as if she was present in church. Here we have someone who never travelled away from her convent yet was followed and venerated by thousands over the years with many women still joining the order and many more learning more about her in the Third Order.
We may never travel the mission fields, we may never preach great sermons or write clever books of theology but as long as we keep a resolute and steady faith in Christ alone, we can do no better.