Clare was born in Assisi around 1193. Assisi was a small city in the province of Umbria in Italy. Her family were very wealthy and she was educated in the domestic arts of spinning and needle work, reading and writing.
One day before Clare was born, her mother was standing before the cross praying that the Lord would help her in child-birth. At that moment she heard a voice saying to her that she would give birth to a great light which would wonderfully illumine the world and so the baby was christened “Clare” which means clear shining light.
As a young girl Clare listened to Francis of Assisi talking about God, and she was so captived by his words, that she felt a longing to know more about this God of love and mercy, which Francis spoke of with such inspiring enthusiasm. She heard him preach detachment from things and money, to live in faith, that God will provide as God cares for the birds of the air (Mtt. 6).
In 1212 Clare left her family and joined Francis inspired by his faith. Clare lived and believed in Divine Providence. She depended on God to supply what she and the community needed. Her small group of followers became known as Poor Clares. Clare became totally enamoured with God. She renounced worldly goods, which gave her complete freedom of spirit, and she was enriched with the gift of God’s grace which she shared with all throughout her life of prayer. Clare was the first woman to write her own rule and she was an extra-ordinary woman of her times.
Clare accepted all people and things as a gift from God. She lived amongst her community as an equal doing daily works with everyone else. She was attentive to the well-being of every sister. In the document on her canonization in 1255 a number of miracles are retold.
Francis also respected Clare’s gifts of listening and insight. He and his brothers went to Clare whenever they had to make an important decision. Pope Gregory IX, a regular visitor, often consulted her opinion. Soon Clare and her communities became known for their care and prayers for people in need.
Clare was canonized in 1255 just two years after her death. 800 years later Clare’s light still shines whenever the Sisters of St. Clare are present.
We have a responsibility as bearers of the light to make every effort to ensure the vitality of our Congregation into the future.