St. Clare of Assisi (1193-1253) was born of a noble family, twelve years after the birth of her famous townsman St. Francis, who had a major influence on her life. At the age of eighteen, Clare left home secretly and, with Francis’ help, arranged to reside in a Benedictine convent. Her family’s attempts to persuade her to return home were unsuccessful, and eventually she was joined by her sister (St. Agnes) and later by her widowed mother.
St. Francis established the three of them as the nucleus of a religious community for women and drew up a “way of life” for them, thus establishing the Order which became known as the “Poor Clares.” In 1215 Pope Innocent III granted the Order the “privilege of property”: permission to live wholly on alms, without any personal or communal property or revenue whatever. (This was a privilege Clare later had to defend against good-intentioned Church officials worried about the community’s well-being.)
Clare was known as a great contemplative, and she provided able leadership for her community for some forty years. In spite of her own austere lifestyle, she urged others not to overdo their acts of penance, for “our bodies are not made of brass.”
Clare had a deep spiritual friendship with St. Francis, whom she outlived by twenty-seven years. On her deathbed, Clare was heard to say to herself, “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He Who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be You, my God, for having created me.”
Other Saints We Remember Today
Sts. Tiburtius & Susanna (295), Martyrs
St. Philomena (304), Virgin, Martyr, “The Wonder-Worker”