Clare of Assisi


Clare of Assisi
Saint Clare of Assisi

Detail depicting Saint Clare from a fresco (1312–20) by Simone Martini in the Lower basilica of San Francesco, Assisi.
Virgin
Born July 16, 1194(1194-07-16)
Assisi, Italy
Died August 11, 1253(1253-08-11) (aged 59)
Assisi, Italy
Honored in Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheran Church
Canonized September 26, 1255, Rome by Pope Alexander IV
Major shrine Basilica of Saint Clare, Assisi
Feast August 11 (1970 calendar), August 12 (1962 calendar)
Attributes Monstrance, pyx, lamp, habit of the Poor Clares
Patronage Eye disease, goldsmiths, laundry, embroiderers, gilders, good weather, needleworkers, Santa Clara Pueblo, telephones, telegraphs, television

Clare of Assisi (sometimes spelled Clair, Claire, etc.) (July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253), born Chiara Offreduccio, is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life—the first monastic rule known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honor as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares.

Contents

Biography

Clare was born in Assisi, Italy as the eldest daughter of Favorino Scifi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife Ortolana. Ortolana was a very devout woman who had undertaken pilgrimages to Rome, Santiago de Compostela and the Holy Land. Later on in her life, Ortolana entered Clare's monastery, together with Agnes, Clare's sister.[1]

Clare's parents decided she would marry a wealthy young man. In desperation Clare escaped her home and, on March 20, 1212, sought refuge with Francis, who received her into religious life.

Clare lived for a brief period in a nearby Benedictine monastery of nuns, San Paolo delle Abadesse, and then again for a short period at a house of female penitents, Sant'Angelo in Panza on Monte Subasio.[2]

Clare and her sister Agnes soon moved to the church of San Damiano, which Francis himself had rebuilt. Other women joined them there, and San Damiano became known for its radically austere lifestyle. The women were at first known as the "Poor Ladies".

San Damiano became the focal point for Clare's new religious order, which was known in her lifetime as the "Order of San Damiano." San Damiano was long thought to be the first house of this order, however, recent scholarship strongly suggests that San Damiano actually joined an existing network of women's religious houses organized by Hugolino (who later became Pope Gregory IX). Hugolino wanted San Damiano as part of the order he founded because of the prestige of Clare's monastery.[3] San Damiano emerged as the most important house in the order, and Clare became its undisputed leader. By 1263, just ten years after Clare's death, the order became known as the Order of Saint Clare.

Saint Clare miraculously intervenes to save a child from a wolf, in this panel by Giovanni di Paolo, 1455.

Unlike the Franciscan friars, whose members moved around the country to preach, Saint Clare's sisters lived in enclosure, since an itinerant life was hardly conceivable at the time for women. Their life consisted of manual labour[4] and prayer.

For a short period of time the order was directed by Francis himself.[5] Then in 1216, Clare accepted the role of abbess of San Damiano. As abbess, Clare had more authority to lead the order than when she was the prioress, who had to follow the orders of a priest heading the community.[6] Clare defended her order from the attempts of prelates to impose a rule on them that more closely resembled the Rule of St Benedict than Francis' stricter vows. Clare sought to imitate Francis' virtues and way of life so much so that she was sometimes titled alter Franciscus, another Francis.[7] She also played a significant role in encouraging and aiding Francis, whom she saw as a spiritual father figure, and she took care of him during his illnesses at the end of his life, until his death in 1226.

After Francis's death, Clare continued to promote the growth of her order, writing letters to abbesses in other parts of Europe and thwarting every attempt by each successive pope to impose a Rule on her order which watered down the radical commitment to corporate poverty she had originally embraced. She did this despite the fact that she had endured a long period of poor health until her death. Clare's Franciscan theology of joyous poverty in imitation of Christ is evident in the Rule she wrote for her community and in her four letters to Agnes of Prague.

Post death

On August 9, 1253, the Papal bull Solet annuere of Pope Innocent IV confirmed that Clare's Rule would serve as the governing rule for Clare's Order of Poor Ladies. Two days later, on August 11, Clare died at the age of 59. Her remains were interred at the chapel of San Giorgio while a church to hold her remains was being constructed.

Basilica of Saint Clare, Assisi.

On August 15, 1255, Pope Alexander IV canonized Clare as Saint Clare of Assisi. Construction of the Basilica of Saint Clare was completed in 1260, and on October 3 of that year Clare's remains were transferred to the newly completed basilica where they were buried beneath the high altar. In further recognition of the saint, Pope Urban IV officially changed the name of the Order of Poor Ladies to the Order of Saint Clare in 1263.

Some 600 years later in 1872, Saint Clare's remains were transferred to a newly constructed shrine in the crypt of the Basilica of Saint Clare where they can still be seen today.

Legacy

Pope Pius XII designated her as the patron saint of television in 1958, on the basis that when she was too ill to attend Mass, she had reportedly been able to see and hear it on the wall of her room.[8] The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) was founded by a Poor Clare nun, Mother Angelica.

In art, Clare is often shown carrying a monstrance or pyx, in commemoration of the time when she warded away the soldiers of Frederick II at the gates of her convent by displaying the Blessed Sacrament and kneeling in prayer.

Lake Saint Clair and the Saint Clair River in the Great Lakes region of North America were named on her feast day August 11, 1679. Mission Santa Clara, founded by Spanish missionaries in northern California in 1777, has given its name to the university, city, county, and valley in which it sits. Southern California's Santa Clara River is hundreds of miles to the south, and gave its name to the nearby city of Santa Clarita. Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico celebrates its Santa Clara Feast Day annually on August 12 , as the feast was celebrated before the 1960 calendar change.

In the Tridentine Calendar, her feast day is celebrated as a Double on August 12, the day following her death, as August 11 was already assigned to Saints Tiburtius and Susanna, two third-century Roman martyrs. It was changed to a Third-Class Feast in 1960 (see General Roman Calendar of 1962). The 1969 calendar reform removed the feast of Ss. Tiburtius and Susanna from the calendar, allowing St. Clare's feast to be celebrated on August 11, as an Memorial. Although her body is no longer claimed to be incorrupt, her skeleton is displayed in Assisi.

References

Fresco of Saint Clare and sisters of her order, church of San Damiano, Assisi
  1. ^ Bartoli, p. 34-5; in the sources, there is no exact year when Ortolana entered the monastery, according to Bartoli. The best source for the historical details of Clare's life is the "Acts for the Process of her Canonization," in The Lady: Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, ed. and trans. Regis J. Armstrong (NY: New City Press, 2006).
  2. ^ Bartoli p. 80
  3. ^ Maria Pia Alberzoni, Clare of Assisi and the Poor Sisters in the Thirteenth Century (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 2004).
  4. ^ Bartoli p. 92ff
  5. ^ Bartoli 95
  6. ^ Bartoli p. 96
  7. ^ Bartoli p. 171ff
  8. ^ Pope Pius XII (August 21, 1958). "LETTRE APOSTOLIQUE PROCLAMANT Ste CLAIRE PATRONNE CÉLESTE DE LA TÉLÉVISION" (in French). http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/apost_letters/documents/hf_p-xii_apl_21081958_st-claire_fr.html. 

Further reading

  • Bartoli, Marco. Chiara d'Assisi. Rome 1989: Instituto Storico dei Cappucini.
  • Mooney, Catherine M.. "Imitatio Christi or Imitatio Mariae?: Clare of Assisi and Her Interpreters," in Gendered Voices: Medieval Saints and Their Interpreters, ed. Catherine M. Mooney (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), pp. 52–77 (text), pp. 207–220 (notes)

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Clare of Assisi — Clare′ (or Clar′a) of Assi′si [[t]ˈklær ə[/t]] n. big Saint, 1194–1253, Italian nun: founder of the Franciscan order of nuns …   From formal English to slang

  • Clare of Assisi — biographical name Saint 1194 1253 Italian religious …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Clare of Assisi — /klɛər əv əˈsisi/ (say klair uhv uh seesee) noun Saint, 1194–1253, Franciscan nun; founder of the Poor Clares; patron saint of television …   Australian English dictionary

  • Clare of Assisi, St. — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Clare of Assisi, Saint — • Cofounded the Poor Clares with St. Francis. She died in 1253 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Clare of Assisi, Saint — 1194 1253, Italian nun: founder of the Franciscan order of nuns. Also, Clara of Assisi. * * * born July 16, 1194, Assisi, duchy of Spoleto died Aug. 11, 1253, Assisi; canonized 1255; feast day August 11 Founder of the order of Poor Clares… …   Universalium

  • Clare of Assisi,Saint — Clare of As·si·si (klâr; ə sēʹzē, sē, ə sĭsʹē), Saint. 1194 1253. Italian nun and religious leader who founded with Saint Francis of Assisi the first Franciscan order of nuns, the Poor Clares. She was canonized in 1255. * * * …   Universalium

  • Clare of Assisi, Saint — 1194 1253, Italian nun: founder of the Franciscan order of nuns. Also, Clara of Assisi …   Useful english dictionary

  • St. Clare of Assisi —     St. Clare of Assisi     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► St. Clare of Assisi     Cofoundress of the Order of Poor Ladies, or Clares, and first Abbess of San Damiano; born at Assisi, 16 July, 1194; died there 11 August, 1253. She was the eldest… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • St. Clare of Assisi's Church (Bronx, New York) — The Church of St. Clare of Assisi General information Architectural style Florentine Romanesque Revival Town or city Morris Park, Williamsbridge, The Bronx, New York City Country United States of America …   Wikipedia


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