CLARE OF ASSISI
July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253
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.
Clare was born Chiara Offreduccio in Assisi, a
small town in Umbria. She was the beautiful
daughter of a count and a devoutly Christian
mother who had made pilgrimages to Rome,
Santiago de Compostela, and the Holy Land.
Clare was sixteen when her parents singled
out a wealthy young man for her to marry.
However, any hope of a marriage of aristocratic
comfort for Clare ended when she heard
Saint Francis preaching in the streets of Assisi.
Like Clare, Francis was from a noble family,
yet he had cast aside all material wealth for the
life of a mendicant. When Clare heard Francis
speak, she was filled with a desire to imitate him.
Shortly after their meeting, a bishop handed Clare
a palm on Palm Sunday. Clare took it as a sign
and ran away from her parent’s palace at night to join
Francis’s order. Francis cut her hair and gave her a
rough brown tunic to wear. From him she took the
veil of religious vocation at his newly founded
Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi.
Clare founded the Order of Poor Ladies
(the Poor Clares) to compliment Francis’s order of
brothers. Throughout Europe, wherever Franciscans
established themselves, there too went the Poor Clares.
They ate no meat, wore no shoes, lived in modest houses,
and spent their days in prayer and silence. They depended
entirely on alms and their faith that charity would provide.
In art, Clare is usually shown with a monstrance. The
image alludes to the time when she warded off attackers to
her convent by standing at the gates, holding the Blessed
Sacrament aloft. In her last days, when she was too ill to
attend mass, Clare was said to have seen visions of the
ceremony on the walls of her cell. Thus Clare is known as
the patron of sore eyes.
Clare was canonized by Pope Alexander IV in 1255.
Lake Saint Claire and the Saint Claire River in the
Great Lakes region were named on her feast day in
1679 by French explorers.
Originally posted 7/16/07