Franciscan Spirit Blog

Five Women of Faith: St. Clare of Assisi

St. Clare of Assisi

Before the birth of St. Clare, her mother was praying in church when she heard a voice saying, “Do not be afraid, for you will joyful bring forth a clear light which will illumine the world.” Accordingly, the baby girl who came after this prayer was named Chiara, Italian for “clear one.”

Even before meeting St. Francis, Clare was considered to be a holy young girl because of her obedience, generosity, love for the poor, and devout prayer life. When her parents wanted her to marry, she sought the advice of St. Francis and shortly after consecrated herself to pursue the way of perfection he was teaching.

At first Francis advised her to live in various convents, but finally moved her to San Damiano, a church the Franciscans had rebuilt. She lived in great poverty and penance in an enclosure for 42 years. Soon she was joined by others. Nowadays, Poor Clares, as they are called, live a similar life in many countries around the world, following the rule she devised.

They live in great simplicity, devoting themselves to contemplation. Clare experienced quite a bit of difficulty getting her rule approved, for some prelates thought it should be more like the Benedictine rule and independent of the Franciscan friars. Clare wanted to emphasize poverty and closeness to the Franciscan rule. During her juridical struggles, she was continually ill. But she courageously fought for the original ideals of St. Francis in a time when many friars were relaxing his rule.

St. Clare is the patroness of television, presumably because her name means clear light.

“Our labor here is brief, but the reward is eternal. Do not be disturbed by the clamor of the world, which passes like a shadow. Do not let false delights of a deceptive world deceive you.” —St. Clare of Assisi

Treasury of Women Saints


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