Introduction to Clare of Assisi: Early Documents - 28 

on August 9, 1253 when the officials of the papal court realized that Clare was dying. On August 11, 1253, the Form of Life was brought to her carrying the seal of Innocent IV and, on the following day, Clare died. The crowning act of her life had just been completed: the ideals that she held so close to her heart had been accepted and ratified by the Church.

Clare's body was taken from San Damiano and placed in the church of San Giorgio where Francis had been buried before his body was transferred to the basilica built in his honor. In 1255, Clare was solemnly declared a saint during ceremonies that were led by her friend and confidant, Cardinal Rainaldo, now Pope Alexander IV, who rhapsodized on "this woman, the first of the poor...[who] was dwelling in spirit in heaven." Five years later, that little church of San Giorgio became part of a Basilica dedicated to another of Assisi's saints, Clare. The preacher on that occasion was the Minister General of the Lesser Brothers, Brother (later Saint) Bonaventure of Bagnoregio.


Since the publication of Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, scholarship focused on Clare and religious women of the thirteenth century has evolved greatly. As it has, the legacy of Clare's writings has attracted the attention of theologians and historians, been scrutinized, and examined from different perspectives. Only her Form of Life and her four letters to Agnes of Prague have been without controversy. Clare's Blessing and a letter written to Ermentrude of Bruges have already been controversial and continue to be. More recently, however, Werner Maleczek, Niklaus Kuster, Bartoli Langeli, and Mia Pia Alberzoni have debated the authenticity of Clare's Testament and, in its light, of the Privilege of Poverty of Innocent III. Small as Clare's written legacy may be, it has, nevertheless, produced a paradoxical abundance of studies.

The differences between these few writings, for example, deserve some attention. There are four different styles of writing within them: that of the Form of Life that reflects Clare's awareness of the legal terminology of her time; that of the Testament, filled as it is with a wealth of autobiographical reflections and insights; that of the letters, which is elegant, poetic, and refined; and, finally, that of the Blessing, rich in scriptural texts.

In light of these few writings we can certainly raise questions concerning Clare's education, and her use of secretaries. Both the Acts of the Process of Canonization and the Legend give us little information other than to note Clare's lack of formal education; they do not mention anything of her use of secretaries




Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 28