St. Clare of Assisi (July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253)
Born in Assisi, Clare’s father tried to marry her off to a wealthy young man when she was twelve. She requested that he wait until she was 18. Clare was devoted to prayer, and to some extent followed in her mother’s steps who made many pilgrimages. When Clare turned 18, she was transformed by St. Francis’s preaching. On Palm Sunday, she ran away from home to follow Frances, who cut her hair and dressed her in a black habit and veil. For a time she lived with the Benedictine Nuns. She was soon joined by her sister, Agnes, and together they moved to a place near St. Damian’s which Frances had rebuilt.
Soon other women joined them, and they were known as the “Poor Ladies of St. Damiano.” The house at St. Damians became the centre of the order. Recent scholarship suggests that the network may have preexisted St. Damian’s, having been founded by Hugolino, who wanted St. Damian’s to join them because of its prestige.
St. Damian’s became the most important house, and at first was directed by St. Frances, until Clare was named Abbess. Clare’s chief fight during much of her life was keeping prelates from downgrading the strict rule that they followed. In addition to encouraging her nuns and other nuns in different orders, she also encouraged St. Frances and nursed him on his death bed. She continued the fight for corporate poverty of her order.
We might note, that Clare, like Francis, was dedicated to Lady Poverty, and both the Franciscans and Poor Clares have a constant battle to maintain that standard. To understand the times of Clare and Francis, I would suggest reading “In the Name of the Rose.”
Father, as you raised up Clare to serve you and your church, raise up in this and every generation men and women who will learn truly to put aside the things of this world and serve you truly, this we ask though him who gave up his glory for us, your son, our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach. Amen. (white)