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Clare: The Saint of Silicon Valley
Everyone argues about which city is the capital of Silicon Valley–is it San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto? But there is no argument that Silicon Valley is based primarily in Santa Clara County (pace San Francisco and Newark).
Given this, we have an obvious patron saint–St. Clare of Assisi. Who was she? How does her life speak to us today in Silicon Valley, in our daily experience of long commutes, uncertain employment, high housing prices and state budget deficits, and great disparities in wealth and legal status?Statue of St. Clare at Santa Clara Civic Center Park
Anne Van Kleeck, 1965
Clare, a beautiful young girl from a wealthy and powerful family, was expected to function as a financial and social asset for that family. She should marry well, bear many children, and thus create more wealth and power for the Favorone clan. They were lords in Assisi, creating their own brand of law and order by dominating the merchant/artisan class and the poor. Clare broke free of this by running away from home the night after Palm Sunday in 1212 when she was about nineteen years old. She and a friend walked to the Portiuncula Church where they were met by Francis of Assisi and a few of his followers. Francis cut off her hair, received her into his brotherhood, and then escorted her to a nearby Benedictine convent. Soon Francis gave Clare the first church he had restored, San Damiano, where he had had his own conversion experience when the cross of San Damiano spoke to him, and told her she would be the mother of many. Her sister soon ran away from home and joined her, as did many other well-born women of the town, and eventually her widowed mother.
St. Clare of Assisi © 1997