Santa Clara University

St. Clare Garden

Clare: The Saint of Silicon Valley     

Statue of St. Clare at Santa Clara Civic Center Park by A. Van KleeckEveryone 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
Br. Robert Lentz OFM  St. Clare and cat by Br. Robert Lentz OFM

What was the attraction for these women?  Self-determination and love of God.  These women left their proud and violent male relatives to live with each other and for each other and God, forsaking earthly riches, comforts, and power. They lived off the work of their own hands and food given to them by the citizens of Assisi.  They had almost nothing–and the more they emptied themselves out, the happier they were and the more they had. They lived lives of silence, obedience, and prayer.  They saw God in all things–the natural world, the sick and the beggars who came to them.  They felt the power of God, the ecstasy of love, and the beauty of silence.

Closeup of St. Clare Statue by Anne Van Kleeck, Santa Clara, CaliforniaClare is the natural patron saint for Silicon Valley, with her message of slowing down, opening up, letting go, and trusting and loving everyone, even one’s enemies.   Let her vision become our vision.

This web site was written and designed by Nancy Lucid whose research was supported by a generous grant from the Bannan Institute for Jesuit Educational Mission at Santa Clara University.  

For questions regarding the web site contact Nancy Lucid.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 
Printer-friendly format