The Testament - 59 

The Testament
(1247-1253)

Introduction

Of all the writings of Clare, the Testament is certainly the most auto- biographical, filled, as it is, with personal and Franciscan remembrances that marvelously reveal the charism of Clare.a Yet the document cannot be fully understood without seeing it in light of Clare’s struggle to have her Rule, her own understanding of the Form of Life left to her and the Poor Ladies by Saint Francis, approved by the Pope. No doubt she wrote this Testament as a statement of the essential values she perceived in the daily life of San Damiano. It was her farewell message, her “last will” that would guide her sisters after her death.

Scholars continue to cast doubts on the authenticity of the Testament. Their arguments spring from the weaknesses of the manuscript tradition that only sporadically presents a complete edition of the text, and from the changes of style in the work itself.b Recent scholarship has re-examined the manuscript evidence and advanced the proposition of various stages of com- position or re-writing during the life of Clare herself.c

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Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 59

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