St. Clare of Assisi, (1194-1253), was born into a wealthy, politically influential, Catholic family in Assisi, Italy. When she was 12, her family decided she should marry. She begged them to allow her to wait until she was 18 and they eventually agreed.
As a teen, Clare learned of a priest named Francis (St. Francis of Assisi). After hearing him preach, she decided that her calling was to “live for the Gospel.” She admired how Francis lived — in poverty, community, and service to the poor. After receiving permission from the bishop of Assisi, she left her family join Francis and his followers. Once with them, Clare left her fancy life behind, donning a plain robe, simple veil, and cutting her hair short, a symbol of her desire to reject marriage and live a religious life.
Studying early on with the Benedictines, she was joined by her sister. Fearing for their safety from Clare’s family who were determined that the daughters return, Francis and his followers built a home for them next to a church they restored, San Damiano, for their protection. While there, Clare and Francis established the Order of the Poor Ladies of San Damiano.
Daily Mass, adoration, and the Eucharist were integral to the lives of Clare’s Poor Ladies. The growing community’s radical devotion to strict poverty set them apart from other congregations. Following her order’s eventual approval by the Pope, she wrote the order’s Rule of Life based on the teachings of St. Francis — the first monastic rule known to be written by a woman.
After St. Clare died, the Poor Ladies were renamed the Order of St. Clare or, the Poor Clares, in her honor. She passed away at the age of 59, one day after her Rule was approved. St. Clare, pray for us!