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Why Chiara

September 2003: the OFS (Franciscan Secular Order), held a meeting at the Leo Amici Theatre - Lago di Monte Colombo, place of peace, love and brotherliness. On this occasion, the figure of Francesco entered overwhelmingly into my life and immediately after the musical ‘Un Vagito nella notte’ (a baby’s wail in the night), the live nativity presented also on Eurovision during the Mass by the Holy Father on 24th December 2003. Francesco enters this show with the strength of his personality, with his charisma, but also as an artist and a minstrel. After him, Chiara, Francesco’s little flower (this is how she used to define herself); I could but only write also about her and tell you of her personality.

On the stage, an old man will explain the need to dedicate a performance to her: he is a wonderful, timeless figure whose mystery will only be revealed at the end of the spectacle. This very figure will explain, using the words of our Pope John Paul II, that it is really difficult to separate these two names, Francesco and Chiara. He defines them as ‘phenomena’, ‘legends’. He explains that, between them, something deep lives, that can only be understood through the criteria of the Franciscan, Christian and Evangelical spirituality. But he introduces them also as physical realities because they were persons, bodies “About them – continues the Pope – we have the way Francesco saw his sister, the way in which he embraced Christ. He saw himself as an image of her, bride of Christ, mystical bride with whom he was forming his Sanctity”

Before revealing the mystery of the old man’s figure, at the end of the spectacle, the words of the Pope resound again, and they call it, “divine legend” Chiara beside Francesco but he adds: ‘It is necessary to rediscover the figure of Saint Chiara in our time,, to rediscover that charisma, vocation, to rediscover the divine legend of Francesco and Chiara, because it is necessary for the life of the Church’. The show begins with Chiara dying, and around her, are the crying nuns. Sister Agnese , who is also her blood sister and comes from another convent, enters the scene. Sister Filippa, Sister Amata and the others try their best, one after the other, in telling of the greatness and internal beauty of this woman and read her testament; Chiara embraces her sister Agnese and tells her not to cry because she will soon come to God too, and, exhausted, asks for ‘a cerasa’, a cherry. She, used to fasting and a life of penitence, surprisingly and with an extraordinary humanity, asks for something for herself. Agnese sends a sister into the cloister, in a great hurry, more out of desperation than of conviction, because it is August and cherries are not in season. In the few minutes that separate Chiara’s request from the return of the fellow nun, that will miraculously arrive with a cherry in her hands, the first and second part of the show flow, together with the most touching and extraordinary events of her life: the images of her mother, of herself at six, nine and at fifteen years of age, of her meeting with Francesco, the escape from home, her hair cut for her consecration to the Lord and her obedience to Francesco.

In fact Chiara does not consecrate herself to the Lord through Christ, but, extraordinarily, through that Saintly brother she elects as her spiritual father at his death. She sees herself again as mother superior while washing the feet of her fellow sisters, the tears and lacerations of her spiritual growth, her desire to be granted in her right to total poverty, the wait for the papal bull availing her right that she, first woman in history, has written.

The papal bull will only arrive one hour before she dies.

She relives the lessons of spirituality and the death of Francesco, she sees herself stop the violence and the barbarity of the Saracen showing them the Consecrated Host. She sees that Christmas night, again when she was left alone in the dormitory of San Damiano where she had lived her whole life. After she had resisted the temptations of the devil who had appeared in the guise of a child, the Lord miraculously contacted her with the “Basilica di San Francesco” so that she could take part in the celebration.

For the personal certainty that I have of the real life after our death, and out of respect for the faith and Sanctity of this extraordinary woman, I dared represent the soul leaving the body and running up to God at her death. And it is with this very image that the spectacle concludes, with Chiara’s pure mysticism and her contemplation of her definitive separation from earthly life, that has finally come to an epilogue of eternal reality.

Carlo Tedeschi

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