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Pope speaks on groundbreaking influence of St. Clare of Assisi

Catholic World News - September 15, 2010

At his weekly public audience on September 15, Pope Benedict XVI continued his reflections on the influence of women in the Church with some thoughts on St. Clare of Assisi.

"Her witness shows us how much the Church is indebted to courageous women rich in faith who, like her, were capable of giving a decisive impulse to ecclesial renewal,” the Pope told the crowd assembled in the courtyard of his residence at Castel Gandolfo.

Like her colleague St. Francis, St. Clare was born into a wealthy family, but deserted a life of ease to join the new Franciscan order, the Pope recalled. Her friendship with St. Francis, he added, “is beautiful and important element, for when two pure souls enflamed with the same love for God meet, from their mutual friendship they draw a powerful stimulus to follow the path of perfection.”

St. Clare, the Holy Father continued, “was the first woman in Church history to produce a written Rule, approved by the Pope.” The Vatican also agreed that her religious order would own no material property, a rare exemption from the ordinary provisions of canon law at that time, “in appreciation of the fruits of evangelical sanctity” that was evident in her young religious community.

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