St Clare is the founder of the order of nuns known as the Poor Clares.
This is a sister order of the Franciscians, the religious order started by St Francis.
St. Clare of Assisi was born in Assisi, Umbria, as the eldest daughter of Favorino Scifi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife Ortolana. Ortolana was a very devout woman who had undertaken pilgrimages to Rome, Santiago de Compostela and the Holy Land. Later on in her life, Ortolana entered Clare's monastery. Although many commentators state that Clare heard St. Francis preaching in the streets of Assisi about his new mendicant order (then newly approved by Pope Innocent III) and was moved by his words, there is no explicit evidence for this in the sources.
On March 20, 1212, Clare's parents had decided she would marry a wealthy young man. In desperation Clare escaped her home and sought refuge with St. Francis, who received her into religious life.
Clare lived for a very brief period in a nearby Benedictine monastery of nuns, San Paolo delle Abadesse, and then again for a short period at a house of female penitents, Sant'Angelo in Panza on Monte Subasio. Her sister Agnes of Assisi also left her parents and followed Clare to Sant'Angelo.
Clare and Agnes soon moved to the church of San Damiano, which Francis himself had rebuilt. Other women joined them there, and San Damiano became known for its radically austere lifestyle. The women were at first known as the "Poor Ladies".
Unlike the Franciscan friars, whose members moved around the country to preach, Saint Clare's sisters lived in enclosure, since an itinerant life was hardly conceivable at the time for women. Their life consisted of manual labour and prayer.
Image: St Clare intervenes saving a child from a wolf.
- Saint Clare of Assisi died of a long illness on August 11, 1253.
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