From "The Little Flowers, Legends, and Lauds"

Edited by Otto Karrer,
Translated by N.Wydenbruck
1979, Sheed & Ward, London.

E.Morrogh Bernard,
Vicar General, Westminister
Aug.14, 1947

Friday, September 3, 2010

How St.Clare went to eat with St.Francis at St.Mary of the Angels (15)

When St.Francis stayed at Assisi, he often visited St.Clare and gave her holy counsels. She had a great desire to eat with him once, and begged him many times to do so, but he would never grant her this consolation. St.Francis's companions, seeing this great desire of St.Clare, said to him: "Father, it seems to us that this severity is not consistent with divine charity - that you should not concede so small a thing as to allow Sister Clare, a virgin so holy and beloved of God, to eat with you, especially when one considers that through your preaching she relinquished all the riches and pomps of the world. Truly, if she were to ask you for an even greater favour than this, you should accord it to her, your spiritual plant."

Then St.Francis answered: "Do you hold that I should grant her request?"

The companions said: "Yes, father, it is right that you should afford her this consolation."

St.Francis then said: "As you are of this opinion, I agree. But so that she should be consoled even more, I wish this meal to be taken at St.Mary of the Angels, seeing that she has been cloistered so long in San Damiano, it will please her to see St.Mary's again, the place where her hair was shorn and she became the bride of Jesus
Christ. There we will eat together in the name of God."

When the ordained day arrived, St.Clare came out from her convent with one sister, and, accompanied by the companions of St.Francis, saluted the Blessed Virgin at her altar, before which she had been shorn and veiled, and then they took her to see the place until it was time to dine. In the meantime St.Francis had had the table prepared on the bare ground, as he was wont to do. And when it was time to dine, St.
Francis and St.Clare sat down together, and one of the companions of St.Francis with the companion of St.Clare, and then all the other companions sat down at table with greater humility.

At the first course, St.Francis began to speak of God with such suavity, so sublimely and so wonderfully that the abundance of divine grace descended on them and they were all rapt in God.

And while they were thus rapt with their eyes and their hands raised to Heaven, the people of Assisi and Bettona and the surrounding countryside saw St.Mary of the Angels, the monastery and the woods which then surrounded it, burning brightly, as though a great fire were blazing in the church, the house and the woods. Therefore, the men of Assisi came running in great haste to put out the flames, believing firmly that something was on fire. But when they arrived there they found nothing burning; they then went in and found St.Francis and St.Clare and all their company rapt in ecstatic contemplation, sitting around that humble board.

From this they understood that the fire had been divine and not material, and that God had caused it to appear miraculously to show and signify the fire of divine love which inflamed the souls of those holy monks and nuns, and they returned home with great consolation in their hearts and holy edification.

Then, after a long time, St.Francis and St.Clare and the others returned to themselves, and, feeling well comforted by the spiritual sustenance, they had little care of bodily nourishment. And so, when this blessed meal was over, St.Clare, fittingly accompanied, returned to San Damiano. The sisters were exceedingly glad to see her again, because they had been afraid that St.Francis had sent her to direct another convent, as he had already sent the holly Sister Agnes, her own sister, to rule as abbess over the convent of Monticelli at Florence. St.Francis had several times said to St.Clare: "Make yourself ready, in case it should be necessary for me to send you to another place." And she, as a true daughter of holy obedience, had replied:" Father, I am always ready to go wherever you may send me." And for this reason the sisters were very glad when they had her back again.

And from then on St.Clare remained in great consolation. To the glory of Christ, Amen.

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