SAINT FRANCIS AND SAINT CLARE
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© November 2019, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
I. SAINT FRANCIS
Saint Francis of Assisi is one of the most famous of the medieval saints. He was born into a wealthy family in 1181. He grew up in high society and enjoyed all the pleasures and activities of the wealthy people of his day.
One day in 1208, however, a beggar asked him for alms while he was selling silk his family had imported from India. He found he could not resist the man’s pleas and somewhat reluctantly gave the man some silk.
He was severely beaten for this act by his father. However, Francesco’s desire to help the poor persisted, and came out periodically in the next few years. As a result, he received several more beatings.
FORMING THE FRANCISCAN ORDER
The Catholic Church in his area of Italy had become a wealthy, corrupt order of merchants and priests who cared mostly for themselves. They largely ignored some of the original teachings of Jesus, such as “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. This troubled Francisco greatly.
One day in 1212, Francesco was walking in the field near his home in Assisi when he received a vision from God. He was told to found a Christian Order that would honor the poor people and would honor nature and the simple, natural order of things. The vision was quite complete, and Francesco was able to ask questions about what to emphasize in the new church Order.
The Order was about love and gentleness, two qualities that still characterize the Franciscans today. In addition, they would take a vow of poverty because too much money just gets in the way of doing God’s work.
However, they were not to starve or sacrifice their lives due to poverty. The idea was not one of martyrdom, which was popular at that time. It was just that a simple life is better to give a person more time to worship God and do His work on earth.
Francesco immediately set about to form the new Order, which eventually got the blessing of the current Pope. Francesco was a good businessman and organizer of men. He soon built a small church near Assisi and had a number of male followers, all of whom lived a rather simple life together.
They used only what they absolutely needed to spread the gospel of Jesus and help the local people with whatever they needed. They relied on God and on nature to provide for them, and they were cared for.
The Franciscan Order also taught the science of development, which is taught on this website. It has to do with excellent nutrition, adequate rest and sleep, and other procedures such as the pushing down exercise. When done correctly, development produces better health and a much longer life. For details about development, read Introduction To Development.
Francesco was well-educated, which was rare at that time. As a result, he wrote extensively about his new Order and this helped it to grow and expand.
Over the next twenty years, the Franciscan Orders for grew and expanded throughout Europe. Today there are hundreds of groups all over Europe and America, mainly.
The Franciscan Orders are still guided by the same principles of simplicity, poverty, and helping others to better their lives through the teachings of Jesus.
Francesco’s health was always delicate, ever since the first beating he had experienced 20 years prior. He spent the later years of his life trying to stop the wars between the Christians and the Muslims in the Middle East, which were terribly bloody and destructive.
II. SAINT CLARE
Saint Clare was born in Assisi in 1194. Like Francis, she was born into a wealthy family. In fact, she knew of Francesco and admired what he was doing. She had to go through some of the same steps that Francesco had been through – losing interest in the worldly and superficial material world and wanting a better life.
When Clare was 18, she heard Francesco preach at a local church and decided she wanted to join his Order. At first, Francesco said that Clare could not join his monastery, which was set up for men only. However, Clare was not to be stopped. She continuously bothered Francesco for several years, asking him over and over to include women in his monastery. Meanwhile, she lived at two other convents that were nearby.
It was rather rare at that time for women to become nuns and follow a life of service to Christ. Life at that time for women was also very rough, with a lot of rape, abduction and other horrors. There was definitely a need for a safer and happier life for women. Clare saw Francesco as a spiritual leader and wanted to be near him.
Finally, Francesco relented and said he would build her a nunnery close to his church for the women. He built a lovely convent that was safe, clean and bright. As a result, Clare soon had a number of followers and the Women’s Franciscan Order was born.
Francesco and Clare fell worked together on many projects. For example, they guided the development of the Franciscan Orders, although they did not participate in the day-to-day governance. They acted as mentors and guides for others who joined the Franciscan Order.
Francesco and Clare have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of peace on earth and helping people learn to live with and appreciate nature. For this reason, they are the patron saints of the environment and the environmental movement on earth.
THE METAPHOR OF THE FRANCISCANS
Everyone who wishes to move beyond the ordinary life on earth must go through some of the steps that Francesco and Clare went through. One must:
1. See the folly and stupidity of the purely material and superficial life.
2. Leave the comfortable material life and move on to a simpler life, close to nature, in touch with God and with others in a different way. One need not take a vow of poverty, but money must not be a major goal or requirement for your life. It definitely must not get in the way of your worship of God and the way you conduct yourself and your daily routines.
3. Then one must decide to spread this truth to others in some way. It can be through a religious Order or teaching, or it could be in a secular line of work such as healing, counseling or something else.