St. Clare

811clare40St. Clare, born at Assisi in Umbria, was the first of the holy virgins whom St. Francis, consecrated to God, bound to Chirstlike poverty. On a visit to St. Francis, she expressed to him her desire to become a Spouse of Christ. To St. Francis had been given a little chapel called Portiuncula by the Benedictine about of Monte Subasio.

St. Francis gave to Clare the rule of St. Benedict to follow, as he desired to graft his new foundation on the old Order, so as to give it a canonical basis, one already recognized by Holy Church. St. Francis determined that Clare should not imitate the rich convents of Benedictines then in Umbria but should go back to the early traditions of Benedictine poverty; thus it was that Pope Gregory IX was able to write to them before they had a rule of their own: “Now you are worthy daughters of the blessed Benedict.” Her sister Agnes and other women soon joined her; they walked barefooted, slept on the ground, observed perpetual abstinence, and made poverty the basis of their lives.

St. Clare teaches us to have great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. In the midst of her extreme poverty she caused the Blessed Sacrament to be kept in a silver case placed in an ivory pyx. One day when the Sarcens attacked the Convent of San Damiano, Clare herself held up the pyx containing the Blessed Sacrament like a shield between the nuns and the fury of the infidels. The enemy turned and fled.

St. Clare passed to her heavenly reward August 11, 1253, and was canonized by Pope Alexander IV, two years later.

(Source: The New Roman Missal, Rev. F. X. Lasance)