The Rule of Life is another writing of Clare if Assisi. It consists of twelve chapters which are closely connected with each other. The main idea of the Rule of Life is to represent the rules according to which the Sisters live in the Monastery of San Damiano.
Chapter I, In the Name of the Lord, here begins the form of life of the Poor Sisters.
In this chapter Clare of Assisi tells about the form of life which was established by Saint Francis. The main principles of it are the following ones:
”˘ to observe the Holy Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ;
”˘ to live in obedience to the Roman Church;
”˘ to live in chastity. (Clare 100)
Chapter II, Those who wish to live this life and how they are to be received.
In this chapter Clare of Assisi gives recommendations to those who have a desire to accept the life in the Monastery of San Damiano. She writes the the Abbess should seek the contest of all the Sisters and the permission of the Lord Cardinal Protector. The Abbess should examine this woman regarding the Catholic faith and the sacraments of the Roman Church. This woman also should sell all she has and give the money to the poor. Her hair should be cut off around the head and she will be given three tunics and a mantle. She should not leave the Monastery except “for useful, evident, reasonable and approved purpose”ť. When the year of probation comes to the end she will be received into obedience. She will promise to comply with the rule of the Monastery and to live in poverty. (Flanaguan)
Chapter III, The Divine Office and fasting confession and communion.
In this chapter, Clare of Assisi gives all the details concerning the Divine Office in the Monastery. She also tells about fasting and religious holidays.
Chapter IV, The Election and the office of the Abbess; The chapter and the officials and the discreets.
In this chapter, Clare writes about the rules of election of the Abbess. It is necessary that all the Sisters should agree to the candidature of the woman who is going to take the position of Abbess. She also tells about the duties of Abbess in the Monastery. (Clare 107)
Chapter V, Silence, the parlour, and the grille.
In this chapter, Clare of Assisi writes that the Sisters should keep silence from the hour of Compline until Terse. They also should be silent in the church, the dormitory, the refectory. Nevertheless, it is allowed to communicate if necessary in low tone of voice.
Chapter VI, The lack of Possessions.
Clare writes about Francis and his duties concerning the Order of Poor Clares. It is forbidden to own the property except the garden and the piece of land for the needs of the Sisters.
Chapter VII, The Manner of working.
In this chapter Clare writes about the duties of the Sisters to work faithfully and devotedly with their hands.
Chapter VIII, The Sisters shall not acquire anything of their own; begging alms; the sick sisters.
It is said in this chapter that the Sisters should not own a house or anything else. They should not send or receive letters or give away anything outside the Monastery without the permission of the Abbess. She also writes about the rules concerning the sick Sisters.
Chapter IX, The Penance to be imposed on the Sisters who sin;
the Sisters who serve outside the Monastery.
Clare of Assisi tells about different types of punishment in the Monastery. For example,those who sinned mortally. She should eat bread and water on the floor and pray. It is not allowed the Abbess and the Sisters to be angry with her or to be disturbed because anger and disturbance prevent charity.
Chapter X, The Admonition and correction of the Sisters.
The Abbess should admonish and visit the Sisters. The Sisters should obey the Abbess who will constantly point at the mistakes of the Sisters and teach them. (Clare 120)
Chapter XI, The Custody of the enclosure.
Clare of Assisi writes about the portress in the Monastery and her duties.
Chapter XII, The Visitator, the chaplain, and the Cardinal Protector.
In this chapter, Clare writes about those who have the permission to come to the Monastery. Among them are Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, the Lord pope, the chaplain.(Jonson)
THE USE OF MEDIEVAL WOMEN’S POWER
In middle ages women had the power which was given to them for their skills, abilities and good traits of character what was very important in religion. Clare was one of those women who was given the power in her Monastery of San Damiano where she took the position of the Abbess.
Abbess is a superior of the monastery or abbey or a convent of nuns. She was elected, she had certain duties and had the power over the Sisters in the Monastery. However, she was often controlled by the Cardinal who dictated her his rules. It is known that there was a decrease in the power of women in the 12-13-th centuries. The legal system gave the power to the aristocratic women through their fathers and husbands. The church in the middle ages offered women practically the same rights as for the men. (Petroff 82)
In conclusion of the paper, it is necessary to say that Saint Clare was a strong-minded and determined women who had never betrayed her faith and who always had great love for God, for sisters and for all the people in the world. It is said that Saint Clare came from a prayer. Her face was always shining. It is known that there were many followers of Clare of Assisi. Her mother and her sister Agnes also joined the Order of Poor Clares. Although she struggled with Church authorities many of the popes, cardinals and bishops came to her convent for advice. Clare was declared a saint after her death in 1314. The power of women in the middle ages was restricted but in the religious life women had absolute authority.
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