Saint Francis and Clare of Assisi and the miraculous fire in the woods
Clare was locked away in her little Convent at San Damiano, while Francis traveled about spreading the Gospel.
She understood they were called to different walks, that she was to pray and he was to preach, but she had a problem in that he always stayed away from her and her ladies.
This one day in particular, when she heard that he had returned from a trip and was at Santa Maria degli Angeli, she sent word with his friars, asking to share a meal with him.
Even his followers thought he was being too hard on Clare.
They told him, “Father, it does not seem to us that your way of acting accords very well with charity. Clare has given up all the riches of the world; she is a choice plant in your spiritual garden. Why then do you not wish to make her happy in so little a thing as allowing her to have a meal with you?”
In his heart, Francis knew they were right.
He really looked forward to being able to share with Clare.
He decided, however, rather than going to San Damiano, he would have Clare come to Santa Maria degli Angeli.
He felt it would be good for her to get out.
So Clare and one of her ladies went to visit him.
First she went into the Portiuncola to pray; then Francis took her on a tour of the little community that had been built there.
She had fond memories of that Palm Sunday evening when she first went there to join Francis.
They went into the woods. Francis laid out the meager bread and water dinner on a stone.
But before eating, they began to pray.
They were so filled with the Holy Spirit that the entire area became illuminated. There was so bright a light, it could be seen for miles around.
Townspeople thought there was a fire in the woods around Santa Maria degli Angeli and came running with buckets of water to put out the flames.
When they arrived, they saw Francis and Clare, with their two companions, deep in prayer, covered by a brilliant aura.
After their prayer was over, the light went out and the townspeople dispersed. Clare and Francis stood up, spiritually filled, never having touched one drop of food.