Letter of Pope Gregory IX - 131 

Letter of Pope Gregory IX


Even after his election to the papacy on March 19,1227, Cardinal Hugolino maintained his contacts with the Poor Ladies of San Damiano for he, no doubt, had come to see them as a powerful force of renewal in the Church. This letter, written between January and July of 1228, some- time before his visit to Assisi for the ceremonies of the canonization of Saint Francis, contains a marvelous compendium of his understanding of the contemplative life and its role in the Church. It is, moreover, a docu- ment that reveals a Pope Gregory IX who is more a theologian than a can- onist and more a man of the Church than a politician.

1To my beloved daughter, the Abbess, and to the commu- nity of the Enclosed Nuns of San Damiano in Assisi:

2God the Father, to whom you have offered yourselves as servants, has mercifully adopted you as His daughters. Through the operation of the grace of the Holy Spirit, He has espoused you, who are to be crowned in the kingdom of heaven with your heav- enly Spouse, to His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, since above all things you are bound to love your Spouse, Who loves those who love Him and makes them co-heirs, you should delight with all your affections in Him alone, so that nothing may ever separate you from His love. For divinely inspired to this end you have chosen to place yourselves in an enclosure, so that you may profitably renounce the world and all that is in it and, while embracing your Spouse with an untainted love, run after the odor of His ointments, until He introduces you into the chamber of His mother to be refreshed forever by the sweetness of His love.

We certainly hope and have confidence that, if you pay careful and diligent attention, those things which now seem bitter will become wholesome and sweet for you, what is hard will become




Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 131