Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review – Saint Clare, Beyond the Legend, by Marco Bartoli

image I expected this book to be a biography of Saint Clare of Assisi, but it was more an account of what has already been written about Clare, and how this information was come by, as well as a discussion about how accurate (or inaccurate) the information we have about Clare may be.

Nevertheless, though it wasn’t what I expected, it did hold my attention and I learned quite a bit – about Clare and her beliefs, as well as about the times in which she lived. 

Clare’s story is entwined in the story of Saint Francis of Assisi, and so I also learned a bit about Francis.  Many of us know about Francis, the lover of nature and animals, but he was apparently even more so a lover of lepers and the extremely poor.  Clare followed in his spiritual footsteps, loving poverty to the extent of owning absolutely nothing of her own.  Born into a wealthy and noble family, through her love of God she developed a social conscience that would not allow her to live in luxury while knowing there were many at that time in Italy who were the poorest of the poor.

The fact that we have any account of Clare, a woman living as a religious in the 13th century, is amazing.  Her order of nuns were a silent order (except in cases of necessity) and Marco Bartoli makes a point of the fact that despite being cloistered and silent, Clare’s life of holiness spoke out loudly in a time when women were hardly considered prominent members of society or worth listening to.  In other words, Clare definitely made an impression.

I came away from this book wanting to know more about St. Clare, and will be looking for an actual biography about her.  It’s possible that we may never know the complete story of St. Clare of Assisi since she did live in the middle ages, but I feel she is a great example for Christians of any age or time.

Thank you to the Catholic Company for providing me with a free copy of this book to review.

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