The Canticle of Exhortation to Saint Clare and Her Sisters (1225) - 393 

The Canticle of Exhortation to Saint Clare and Her Sisters

The Canticle of Exhortation belongs to the same literary genre as the Canticle of Brother Sun. Once again "those who were with him," that is, the companions of Francis tell us that he composed this piece while convalescing at San Damiano.a From a purely human and medical point of view, this intensely poetic composition remains a mystery. During an acute viral infection, accompanied as it was by severe headaches and general physical debilitation, a patient easily loses not only his orientation with time and place, but also experiences the loss of personal relationships with his closest associates. The temptation always exists to focus on one's own body and its distress. But this canticle, together with the Canticle of Brother Sun, suggests that the contrary was true in Francis's case.

This simple canticle was overlooked for centuries for it can easily be considered a spiritual last will and testament for the Poor Ladies. As the companions tell us, Francis wished to express his mind not only for that occasion but for the future as well. Indeed each stanza contains a reflection on the daily life of the Poor Ladies of San Damiano.




Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 393