Collection of Letters: Detail
- Gregory IX
To his beloved daughter Clara, abbess, and the convent of enclosed nuns of St. Damian of Assisi, greetings and apostolic blessing.
God the father, to whom you offered yourselves as humble handmaids, adopting you mercifully as daughters, married you to his onlybegotten son lord Jesus Christ, with the grace of the holy spirit, to be crowned happily with the heavenly bridegroom in the kingdom of heaven. Whence, since you are bound to love your spouse over all things who, loving those loving him made them coheirs, so you ought to be so delighted with him with all your affections that nothing can ever separate you from his love/charity. For divinely inspired to this, you closed yourselves in the cloisters so that you renounce the world and what are in the world healthily, embracing your spouse with uncorrupted love, you run in the odor of his unguents until he introduces you into the chamber of his mother, to be recreated by the perpetual sweetness of his love.
Reflect attentively and diligently on these things so that, as we believe, and hope for certain, what now seem bitter become healthily sweet to you, the hard become soft, and the harsh gentle, so that you may be in glory if you mourn for Christ the father who endured the passion of ignominious death for us. Truly since among the innumerable bitternesses and infinite anguishes by which we are afflicted ceaselessly, you are our consolation, we ask and urge your community in our lord Jesus Christ and send you by apostolic writings that, whatever you received from us, walking with the spirit and living with the spirit, forgetting the past you stretch yourselves always to the future with the apostle, striving for better graces; so that walking more and more with virtues, you make God glorified in you and fill us with joy, who embrace you with deep love as special daughters, rather, if is it permitted to say, ladies, since you are the brides of our lord.
Since, truly, as we believe, you are made one spirit with Christ, we ask you that in your prayers always remembering us, you raise pious hands to God, earnestly entreating that he who knows that fixed in such dangers we can not resist, strengthening us with his power, may enable us to carry out the ministry committed to us by him so that it may flourish with glory for him, with joy for the angels, with salvation for us and those committed to our rule, etc.
Dilectae filiae Clara Abbatissae, & Conventui, Monialium inclusarum Sancti Damiani Assisi Salutem, & Apostolicam Benedictionem.
Deus Pater, cui vos in ancillas humiles obtulistis, misericorditer in filias vos adoptans, Unigenito Filio suo Domino Jesu Cristo, operante Spiritus Sancti gratia, desponsavit in Regno Coelorum, cum Sponso coelesti feliciter coronandas. Unde, cum Sponsum vestrum super omnia diligere teneamini, qui diligentes se diligens suos efficit cohaeredes, ita in, eo tantum totis affectibus delectari debetis, ut nihil umquam vos ab ejus charitate valeat separare. Ad hoc enim divinitus inspiratae, vos in Claustris reclusistis, ut mundo, & quae in mundo sunt salubriter abdicatis, Sponsum vestrum incorrupto amplexantes amore, curratis in odorem unguentorum ipsius, donec vos introducat in suae cubiculum genitricis, amoris sui dulcedine perpetuo recreandas. Haec utique si, ut confidimus, & pro certo speramus, attente, & diligenter consideratis, quae nunc amara videntur, vobis salubriter indulcescunt, mollescunt dura, & aspera leniuntur, ut gloriemini, si quae pro Christo Patre moeremini, qui pro nobis probrosae mortis sustinuit passionem. Verum
quia inter amaritudines innumeras, & angustias infinitas, quibus affligimur incessanter, vos estis consolatio nostra, Universitatem vestram rogamus, & hortamur in Domino Jesu Christo, ac per Apostolica, vobis scripta mandamus, quatenus, quemadmodum accepistis a Nobis, spiritu ambulantes, spiritu & viventes, posteriorum oblitae semper ad anteriora vos cum Apostolo extendatis, aemulando charismata meliora; ut magis, ac magis virtutibus ambulantes, Deum glorificari faciatis in vobis, & nostrum gaudium impleatis, qui vos tamquam speciales filias (imo, si fas est dicere, Dominas, quia Domini Nostri Sponsas) intima complectimur charitate. Quia vero, sicut confidimus, unus cum Christo spiritus estis factae, postulamus a vobis, ut in orationibus vestris, semper nostri memoriam facientes, pias manus elevetis ad Deum, supplicantes instanter, ut qui scit nos in tantis periculis constitutos pro humana fragilitate non posse subsistere, sua virtute Nos roborans, Ministerium Nobis ab ipso commissum sic det digne peragere, ut Ipsi ad gloriam, Angelis ad gaudium, Nobis, & commissis nostro regimini proveniat in salutem &c.
The pope encourages Clare and her nuns to pursue a holy life as spouses of Christ and to pray for him in his troubles, with perhaps an implied request that they not add to those troubles.
Bullarium Franciscanum Romanorum Pontificum, ed. J. H. Sbaralea, 1 (Rome: Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda Fide, 1759, repr. Santa Maria degli Angeli: Proziuncola, 1983), 37, ep.17.