Our form of life is to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own, in chastity and in enclosure.

The holiness of St. Clare was so manifest to her beloved community in San Damiano that when giving sworn evidence in the process of her canonisation only two years after her death in 1253, the sisters stated that it would be impossible to recount her virtues fully. Even outside the cloister she was known far and wide, and the Pope himself honoured her by coming in person to her death bed in Assisi when he was staying in nearby Perugia.

” As a mother in the midst of her children, the Lady Clare fulfilled the office of Abbess “, her biographer wrote. She herself thought of her sisters as ” co-workers with God and a support for the frail and failing members of His Glorious Body “.

This is our vocation as Poor Clares, and we rejoice in it. Prayer is not just one other activity of our day – no indeed. There are certainly set times for prayer, but the overflow carries into every other moment of our lives, making all our day a prayer. It is like the golden thread running through the design of an exquisite piece of embroidery; it unifies the whole to create a work of art called comtemplative life. And it is God’s work of art, not ours. We have to labour away with the needle of desire and waiting, but it is He who chooses the colours of the thread. Often enough they may seem dull to us but the gold and brilliant hues shine all the more radiantly against a darker background. And it is only the Designer who knows what the finished work will be like. This is our life’s work, and as Pope John XXIII said, ” It is the apostolate which is the most universal and the most fruitful “. Saint Clare knew it well.