Introduction to Clare of Assisi: Early Documents - 16 

that evening went secretly to Our Lady of Angels, the Portiuncula, where Francis and his brothers received her commitment to follow them in the pursuit of Gospel life.

Francis and his brothers escorted Clare to the Benedictine monastery of San Paolo delle Abbadesse in Bastia, a short distance from the Portiuncula, where she was guaranteed sanctuary until further arrangements could be made. After her relatives attempted to convince her to return home, Francis moved her to San Angelo di Panzo, a monastery of Beguine recluses, and finally to San Damiano, the first of the little churches Francis had repaired in fulfillment of the Lord's command. Clare remained there until her death in 1253. Within a short period of time, others joined her, even her mother, Ortulana, and the "Poor Ladies of San Damiano" became recognized followers of Francis of Assisi.

II

In the sixth chapter of her Form of Life, Clare relates that Francis kept an eye on her small community and when he saw that they had "no fear of poverty, hard work, trial, shame, or contempt of the world, but, instead, held them as great delights," he provided them a "form of life." It is a very simple statement describing the Trinitarian foundations of the life at San Damiano, as well as the close ties that would bind the Poor Ladies with Francis and his brothers.

Because by divine inspiration you have made yourselves daughters and handmaids of the most High, most exalted King, the heavenly Father, and have taken the Holy Spirit as your spouse, choosing to live according to the perfection of the holy Gospel, I resolve and promise for myself and for my brothers always to have the same loving care and special solicitude for you as for them.

Shortly before his death, Francis wrote another expression of his hope for Clare and her companions:

I, little brother Francis, wish to follow the life and poverty of our most high Lord Jesus Christ and of His most holy Mother and to persevere in this until the end; and I ask you, my ladies, and I give you my advice that you live always in this most holy life and poverty. And keep careful watch that you never depart from this by reason of the teaching or advice of anyone.

Its simplicity is once more quite striking. There is, nevertheless, a prophetic sense contained in its words, one that was undoubtedly inspired by

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Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 16