New Catholic Dictionary – 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 CommonsDerivation

  • Latin: clarus, famous


(1194 to 1253) Virgin, co-foundress with Saint Francis of Assisi of the Poor Clares, born Assisi, Italy; died there. A daughter of Blessed Ortolana, and endowed from early childhood with the rarest virtues, she was won over by Saint Francis to the service of Christ, pronouncing her vows, 1212, despite the opposition of her father. She lived in retirement with the Benedictine nuns of San Paolo, but fled from there to Sant’ Angelo in Panzo to escape the persistent efforts of her family to make her abandon her vocation. After some time Saint Francis brought her with her sister, Saint Agnes, and other companions to Assisi, where they took up residence in a small house adjoining the chapel of San Damiano, which became the first establishment of the order. Saint Francis appointed Clare superioress of this convent, 1215, and she ruled until her death. She observed the strictest poverty and austerity, declining the offer of Pope Gregory IX to mitigate the rule. During her life the order spread throughout Europe; her mother, her aunt, Bianca, and a younger sister, Beatrix, joined her. When the soldiers of Frederick II, devastating the valley of Spoleto in 1234, attacked the convent of San Damiano, Clare held a ciborium before them and they retreated; for this reason she is usually represented in art holding a ciborium. Patroness against sore eyes. Emblem: a monstrance. Relics at Assisi. Canonized, 1255. Feast, Roman Calendar, 12 August.

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Clare of Assisi”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 March 2018. Web. 21 September 2020. <>