Introduction to the Letters to Agnes of Prague - 41 

tioned as such.a However it may well have been inspired by the papal decree of May 18, 1235, Cum relicta saeculi, in which Gregory IX attempted to provide some sort of material support for Lady Agnes and her companions in the monastery in Prague.b In 1235 Pope Gregory IX informed Agnes of his decision to unite economically and administratively the hospice and monastery in Prague to guarantee the support of the entire enterprise. Finally, in 1237, to Agnes' great satisfaction, after lengthy negotiations, that provision was retracted in another papal decree, Omnipotens Deus, and the direction of the hospice was entrusted to the Confraternity of the Crosiers of the Red Star who were simultaneously recognized as a religious community.

Saint Clare's repeated reference to the pursuit of perfection seems based on this papal document. However, she underscores what the Pope does not seem to understand: the necessity of following the radical poverty of the Poor Christ. In this light, she always provides an insight into her understanding of how perseverance can best be achieved in this pursuit: through continuous contemplation of the Poor Christ.

Third Letter

On February 9, 1237, Pope Gregory IX issued the papal bull, Licet velut ignis, which imposed upon all the monasteries of the Order of San Damiano total abstinence from meat "in imitation of the Cistercians".c No doubt this directive caused confusion among the Poor Ladies and prompted an inquiry from Agnes of Prague since it was contrary to the practice at San Damiano. The advice contained in lines 29-41 of this letter addressed this concern.

Clare, on her part, however, seems to be writing to Agnes because of the papal bull, Pia credulitate tenentes, of April 15, 1238, in which the Pope accepted Agnes' renunciation of the Hospice of St. Francis to dedicate herself and her sisters to a life of contemplation free from temporal concerns.d




Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 41