Clare of Assisi: Gentle Warrior

Paraclete. Jul. 2020. 208p. ISBN 9781640601833. pap. $18.99. REL
Asserting that St. Clare’s life (1194?–1253) is inseparably linked with St. Francis of Assisi’s, Murray (A Mended and Broken Heart) notes that both saints’ biographies have been altered to satisfy popular expectations. Her purpose here is to show the evolution of Clare’s life on the saint’s own terms, which she accomplishes using recent scholarship and primary sources including letters by Clare and the decree canonizing her. The author depicts her as a woman too strong for the church in ongoing battles over maintaining a rule for her religious order (later known as the Poor Clares) committed to an active life and poverty at a time when the popes were forcing religious women to accept the Benedictine rule of cloister supported by generous dowries. Living with an unknown illness for much of her life after the death of Francis, Clare remained obedient to his commitment to counter corruption and opulence in the church. The book also covers political conflicts between the church and secular leaders that affected early Franciscan establishments.
VERDICT A fulfilling work meticulously documented for scholars yet accessible for anyone interested in a life of spirituality.
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