St Clare, Virgin

Ezekiel 12.1-12; Psalm 77; Matthew 18.21—19.1

One of the first followers of St Francis of Assisi, Clare (1194-1253) founded the Order of Poor Ladies on the Franciscan model and wrote their Rule of Life, the first monastic rule known to have been written by a woman. Following her death the order was renamed after her; today their members are most often known as the Poor Clares.

She was born of noble parents in Assisi; as a teenager she heard Francis preach and asked him to teach her how to live after the manner of the Gospel. She first joined the Benedictines until she founded her own convent in the Church of San Damiano. Francis at first directed the new community, but in 1216 Clare accepted the role of Abbess. She and her nuns lived in enclosure, practicing manual labour and contemplative prayer. They went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence.

Clare remained close to Francis and followed his ideals, including his love of nature. She cared for St Francis on his death bed. She was canonised in 1255 by Pope Alexander IV.

Posted in Daily Reflection.