Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi can be recognized by their lived faith in a God of love, by their deeds of care and generosity, by their care of creation, and by their commitment to live Gospel lives. We invite you to learn more about our founders.
Saint Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi was born in 1181 or 1182 to Pietro Bernardone, a wealthy cloth merchant, and his French wife, Lady Pica. Pietro was away trading in France when his son was born and the child was christened Giovanni, but his father changed it to "Francesco" (the little Frenchman) on his return. Pietro had an affection for all things French, which Francis himself came to share: at his most joyful, he liked to improvise love songs in French and sing them to God. Francis was not much of a student, however, nor did he have any great enthusiasm for taking up his father's business.
Saint Clare of Assisi
Favarone and Ortulana, Clare's parents, were of the noble class in Assisi. Their intergenerational residence in the upper part of the town was adjacent to the Cathedral of San Rufino. When Clare was a small child, the political situation in Assisi became so dangerous for the women and children of the noble class that they fled to nearby Perugia. The merchant class of Assisi was forcing its way into power, thus crippling the feudal system. New city-states began forming throughout Italy. During the first decade of the thirteenth century, the social order in Assisi stabilized enough for the young Clare to return to the city with her mother and her two sisters.
The logo for the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa, includes a green Tau, a traditional Franciscan symbol whose origin is in the Old Testament. Francis used the Tau to sign his name.
On one of Francis’ journeys to Rome to talk to Pope Innocent III about his new Order, he stopped for Mass at the Church of St. John Lateran. Legend holds that there he heard this reading from Ezekiel, 9:4-6: "Pass through the city [Jerusalem] and mark an X [tau] on the foreheads of those who moan and groan over all the abominations that are practiced within it. To the others I heard him say: 'Pass through the city after them and strike! ...Old men, youths and maidens, women and children, wipe them out. But do not touch anyone marked with the X [tau]."
Moved by the prophet's vision of the faithful marked on their foreheads, St. Francis exclaimed: "This shall be the mark of the Friars Minor, the faithful ones of the Lord." Or so the story goes. Today the Tau is a symbol of those who follow Christ in the footprints of St. Francis.
Following in the Footsteps of Francis and Clare
Following in the Footsteps of Francis and Clare with the Clinton Franciscans is a brief introductory course on the Franciscan way of life and the Clinton Franciscan charism. It is for anyone drawn to know more about the saints of Assisi, their way of life, and what they offer to understanding and living in today's world. The course is for anyone interested in, or involved in, our ministries and the work of our Franciscan Peace Center, or anyone interested in becoming a vowed member, Associate, or Sojourner.
Each of the five sessions is designed to last approximately two hours and includes prayer, presentations and response, and a social. During the course, participants will:
Study the original writings of Francis and Clare, their prayers and reflections, and how their followers used their teaching and example to develop the Franciscan way.
Examine core Franciscan values: Gospel living, humility, poverty, joy, compassion, contemplation, and ongoing conversion.
Learn how the worldwide Franciscan areas of concern - solidarity with those who are poor and marginalized, care for creation, and peacemaking - informed the Clinton Franciscan journey of active nonviolence and peacemaking, and about the Clinton Franciscan who led Franciscans worldwide into the U.N.
Click HERE to request more information on the course and when it will be offered next. There is no charge for Following in the Footsteps of Francis and Clare with the Clinton Franciscans.