A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

St. Francis Countdown: Dante's Song of St. Francis

In preparation for the Feast of Holy Father Francis next week, I'm going to make posts primarily about him.

The following is an excerpt from Canto XI of Dante's Paradiso. When Dante arrives in Heaven, he encounters both St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas. The most beautiful part about this encounter is that Thomas Aquinas (a Dominican) sings the praises of St. Francis, whereas Bonaventure (a Franciscan) extols St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominicans- it illustrates the special bond that exists between the Dominican Order and the Franciscan Order. The featured picture was drawn by my friend Matt....he gave a copy of Chesterton's Saint Francis of Assisi to me for Christmas 2002 and drew the picture on the inside cover of the book.

Below is the excerpt from Dante's Paradiso. This particular excerpt about St. Francis is told by St. Thomas Aquinas:

Between Tupino and the stream that falls Down from the hill elect of blessed Ubald, A fertile slope of lofty mountain hangs,

From which Perugia feels the cold and heat Through Porta Sole, and behind it weep Gualdo and Nocera their grievous yoke.

From out that slope, there where it breaketh most Its steepness, rose upon the world a sun As this one does sometimes from out the Ganges;

Therefore let him who speaketh of that place, Say not Ascesi, for he would say little, But Orient, if he properly would speak.

He was not yet far distant from his rising Before he had begun to make the earth Some comfort from his mighty virtue feel.

For he in youth his father's wrath incurred For certain Dame, to whom, as unto death, The gate of pleasure no one doth unlock;

And was before his spiritual court 'Et coram patre' unto her united; Then day by day more fervently he loved her.

She, reft of her first husband, scorned, obscure, One thousand and one hundred years and more, Waited without a suitor till he came.

Naught it availed to hear, that with Amyclas Found her unmoved at sounding of his voice He who struck terror into all the world;

Naught it availed being constant and undaunted, So that, when Mary still remained below, She mounted up with Christ upon the cross.

But that too darkly I may not proceed, Francis and Poverty for these two lovers Take thou henceforward in my speech diffuse.

Their concord and their joyous semblances, The love, the wonder, and the sweet regard, They made to be the cause of holy thoughts;

So much so that the venerable Bernard First bared his feet, and after so great peace Ran, and, in running, thought himself too slow.

O wealth unknown! O veritable good! Giles bares his feet, and bares his feet Sylvester Behind the bridegroom, so doth please the bride!

Then goes his way that father and that master, He and his Lady and that family Which now was girding on the humble cord;

Nor cowardice of heart weighed down his brow At being son of Peter Bernardone, Nor for appearing marvellously scorned;

But regally his hard determination To Innocent he opened, and from him Received the primal seal upon his Order.

After the people mendicant increased Behind this man, whose admirable life Better in glory of the heavens were sung,

Incoronated with a second crown Was through Honorius by the Eternal Spirit The holy purpose of this Archimandrite.

And when he had, through thirst of martyrdom, In the proud presence of the Sultan preached Christ and the others who came after him,

And, finding for conversion too unripe The folk, and not to tarry there in vain, Returned to fruit of the Italic grass,

On the rude rock 'twixt Tiber and the Arno From Christ did he receive the final seal, Which during two whole years his members bore.

When He, who chose him unto so much good, Was pleased to draw him up to the reward That he had merited by being lowly,

Unto his friars, as to the rightful heirs, His most dear Lady did he recommend, And bade that they should love her faithfully;

And from her bosom the illustrious soul Wished to depart, returning to its realm, And for its body wished no other bier.

Think now what man was he, who was a fit Companion over the high seas to keep The bark of Peter to its proper bearings.

And this man was our Patriarch; hence whoever Doth follow him as he commands can see That he is laden with good merchandise.


Blogger friar minor said...

Thanks for the verses, Chiara. I love the 'countdown' idea; it's like an updated version of a novena!

7:27 AM  
Blogger Kelly Joyce Neff said...

Thank you for this, Chiara!!
I love Dante. He was, as you doubtless know, a Secular Franciscan.
May the heavens sing in lauds eternal to our Blessed Father Francis! Amen.

10:36 PM  

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