I will begin here to explain a point to which I shall return in this series of posts: medieval symbolism. You know this is St. Clare not because of what she looks like, because no one knows what exactly she looked like, but because of the symbols she bears. Her habit identifies her as a nun, her book identifies her as a writer- in her case, the book she holds is the rule she wrote for her order. But what really nails her down as St. Clare is the ciborium she holds in her right hand. This became her symbol on account of the miracle attributed to her. Catholic encyclopedia puts it thus:
When, in 1234, the army of Frederick II was devastating the valley of Spoleto, the
soldiers, preparatory to an assault upon Assisi, scaled the walls of San Damiano by night, spreading terror among the community. Clare, calmly rising from her sick bed, and taking the ciborium from the little chapel adjoining her cell, proceeded to face the invaders at an open window against which they had already placed a ladder. It is related that, as she raised the Blessed Sacrament on high, the soldiers who were about to enter the monastery fell backward as if dazzled, and the others who were ready to follow them took flight. It is with reference to this incident that St. Clare is generally represented in art bearing a ciborium.
Other sources identify the soldiers as Saracen mercenaries under the employ of Frederick II. More on that later. Now, it is time to head inside.
Well, tomorrow will be the time I start going inside.