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Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, had also the honor of giving birth to St. Clare, his spiritual daughter. She was born in 1193. From her childhood she desired to consecrate herself to Jesus Christ. Having heard of St. Francis and his sanctity, she contrived to be taken to him by a pious matron. The conversation of St. Francis mad her resolve to abandon the world. On March 18, 1212, together with another young woman, she went to the Portiuncula, where St. Francis prayed, and received the penitential habit.
At first St. Francis placed St. Clare in a Benedictine convent of nuns. She persevered in her resolution, in spite of the opposition of her friends and relatives. Later her sister Agnes joined her. St. Francis then placed them in a separate house. Soon after, her mother and several other ladies, some of high nobility, united themselves to her. The foundation of Poor Clares, or the Second Order of St. Francis, was thus laid.
Within a few years St. Clare founded a number of other monasteries and her Order spread to Germany and Bohemia.
The austerities these religious women practiced had scarcely ever been known among their sex. Together with other mortifications, their fast was perpetual. Such was the spirit of poverty of St. Clare that when, after her profession, she fell heiress to the large fortune of her father, she gave all of it to the poor. She would accept no revenues for her monastery.
When the army of Frederick II was devastating the valley of Spoleto some of the soldiers placed a ladder against the convent wall. St. Clare caused herself to be carried to a window, and, holding the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in sight of the enemies, she prostrated herself before the Eucharistic God. Her prayer was heard, and the enemies, struck with a sudden panic, fled in terror. St. Clare’s life came to an end, on August 11, 1253. She was canonized in 1255 by Pope Alexander IV.
PRAYER: God, in Your mercy You led St. Clare to embrace poverty. Through her intercession help us to follow Christ in the spirit of poverty and come to see Your face in the heavenly Kingdom. Amen.