Monday, August 11, 2008

Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)

Clare was born on July 16th 1194 into a family of nobles. As a little girl she would sometimes hide food from her plate and later give it to the poor.
On hearing St. Francis preach Clare became determined to live the gospel in a more radical way. On Palm Sunday, March 20, 1212 Clare and cousin Pacifica, secretly meet with Francis in the dead of night in the little chapel of ‘Mary of the Angels’. There she laid aside her title and had Francis cut her hair. From that moment she vowed to live her life entirely in the service of Jesus, her heavenly spouse.
She began the Order of Poor Ladies or Poor Clares at San Damiano, which Francis and the brothers had rebuilt by hand. In the beginning, most of the young girls who joined her in this life of radical poverty were from the noble families of Assisi and the surrounding area. They served the poor and tended the sick and lepers.
Part of Clare’s work was the help and encouragement she gave to her spiritual father, Francis. It was to her that he turned when in doubt and it was she who urged him to continue his mission in preaching when he thought his vocation lay in becoming a hermit.
On August 11, 1253, just before dawn, Clare, foundress of the Poor Ladies passed peacefully away.

The community of Poor Clares continues to this day, in both the Roman and in the Anglican communions.

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