A Garner of Saints – Saint Clare of Assisi

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Clare of Assisi; date unknown, artist unknown; church of Saint Stephen, South Kensington, London, England; photographed on 22 December 2014 by Oxfordian Kissuth; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(Italian: Chiara) Born at Assisi in 1193 of a rich and noble family. Being singularly beautiful she received many offers of marriage, but these and the insistance of her parents distressed her, and she went to seek Saint Francis of Assisi to ask for his advice. The saint spoke to her of the vanity of this world, and told her to come to him again on Palm Sunday. That day she went to the church with her mother and sisters, dressed in her best clothes, but as the others went to receive the palms at the altar, she remained modestly in her place. The bishop of Assisi, perceiving this, himself took a palm to her, and she followed in the procession with the rest. But the following day, 18th March 1212, she ran away from her home, and with some friends went to the convent of the Portiuncule, where Saint Francis was living with his disciples. He received her at the door, the monks singing the Veni Creator the while. Before the altar of the Virgin she stripped off her rich clothes, and Saint Francis gave her a habit of penitence and cut off her hair. He placed her provisionally with the Benedictines. Her family came to their convent to take her away, using so much violence that her clothes were torn. Showing her shorn head she declared her intention of devoting her virginity to Christ, and ultimately her relations yielded. After some while Saint Francis gave her the habit of his order, and established her in a small house which proved the nucleus of a future monastery of the order of the “Poor Clarisses,” of which she was the founder. This order practised the utmost severities, and upheld in all its strictures the rule of absolute poverty. The Emperor Frederick II, who was engaged in a war against the pope, employed a number of Turks who came to besiege Assisi, and attacked the nunnery which was outside the walls. Clare, who was sick, caused herself to be carried to the entry of the nunnery with a ciborium containing the Sacrament, and placed in full view of the enemy, where she earnestly prayed that God would deliver them from the infidels. Seized with a sudden panic, the besiegers took to flight. Soon after Assisi was besieged by Vitalis Aversa, one of Frederick’s generals. Clare ordered her nuns to cover their heads with ashes, and to pray for the deliverance of their fellow-citizens. After they had prayed for a day and a night, the enemy suddenly raised the siege without having done any harm. Clare’s last years were passed in almost continual sickness, and she died in 1253. Her canonisation took place in 1255. 11th August.

Attributes

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Clare of Assisi”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 April 2017. Web. 27 April 2017. <>