Eight hundred years ago, on Palm Sunday 1212, a young woman stole out of her home in the dead of night. She wasn’t the first teenager in history to elude her family’s watchful eye, nor would she be the last.
We remember her, however, because she was not just another free-spirited eighteen-yearold: Clare of Assisi was slipping away in order to respond to God’s call.
As the eldest daughter of wealthy aristocrats, Lady Clare was expected to marry a nobleman with money and influence. Instead, she longed to give her life to God, after the example of Francis, the son of a prosperous Assisi merchant, who had given up all his inheritance to follow Christ as a poor beggar. Knowing that her relatives would never agree, Clare left home in a dramatic and symbolic way.
Throughout the region, houses of the day were built to include a side or back door called the “death door.” It was used to remove the bodies of deceased family members for burial, following the customary at-home wake. In Assisi, this “death…
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