Daughter of a count and countess. Her father died young. After hearing Saint Francis of Assisi preach in the streets, she confided to him her desire to live for God, the two became close friends. On Palm Sunday 1212 the bishop presented her with a palm, which she apparently took as a sign. Clare and her cousin Pacifica ran away from her mother’s palace during the night. She eventually took the veil of religious profession from Francis at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi.
Founded the Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares) at San Damiano, and led it for 40 years. Everywhere the Franciscans established themselves throughout Europe, there also went the Poor Clares, depending solely on alms, forced to have complete faith on God to provide through people; a lack of land-based revenues was a new idea at the time. Clare’s mother and sisters later joined the order, and there are still thousands of members living lives of prayer in silence.
Clare loved music and well-composed sermons. She was humble, merciful, charming, optimistic, and chivalrous. She would get up late at night to tuck in her sisters who’d kicked off their covers. She daily meditated on the Passion. When she learned of the Franciscan martyrs in Morrocco in 1221, she tried to go there to give her own life for God, but was restrained. Once when her convent was about to be attacked, she displayed the Sacrament in a monstrace at the convent gates, and prayed before it; the attackers left.
Toward the end of her life, when the was too ill to attend Mass, an image of the service would display on the wall of her cell; She was ever the close friend and spiritual student of Francis, who apparently led her soul into the light.
16 July 1194 at Assisi, Italy
11 August 1253 of natural causes
26 September 1255 by Pope Alexander IV
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.
Saint Clare of Assisi
O wondrous blessed clarity of Clare!
In life she shone to a few;
after death she shines on the whole world!
On earth she was a clear light;
Now in heaven she is a brilliant sun.
O how great the vehemence of the
brilliance of this clarity!
On earth this light was indeed kept
within cloistered walls,
yet shed abroad its shining rays;
It was confined within a convent cell,
yet spread itself through the wide world.
– Pope Innocent IV
He Christ is the splendor of eternal glory, “the brightness of eternal light, and the mirror without cloud.”
Behold, I say, the birth of this mirror. Behold Christ’s poverty even as he was laid in the manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. What wondrous humility, what marvelous poverty! The King of angels, the Lord of heaven and earth resting in a manger! Look more deeply into the mirror and meditate on his humility, or simply on his poverty. Behold the many labors and sufferings he endured to redeem the human race. Then, in the depths of this very mirror, ponder his unspeakable love which caused him to suffer on the wood of the cross and to endure the most shameful kind of death. The mirror himself, from his position on the cross, warned passers-by to weigh carefully this act, as he said: “All of you who pass by this way, behold and see if there is any sorrow like mine.” Let us answer his cries and lamentations with one voice and one spirit: “I will be mindful and remember, and my soul will be consumed within me.”
from a letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague by Saint Clare of Assisi