St. Clare


On Aug 11, the Franciscan family will celebrate the solemnity of our holy Mother Clare. It is with great joy that I share this with other subscribers on CAF and invite you to attend the Eucharist that day and to pray for the Franciscan family.

Clare is one of those mysterious people whom most Catholics know only superficially. She is often represented holding a monstrance. With the dawning of EWTN, the Poor Clares have become better known by the average Catholic. But not many people really know about the extraordinary life of this woman who is the spiritual mother to the largest religious family in the Church, the Franciscans.

Clare was not only a disciple of Francis. She was much more than that. She was a disciple of Christ crucified and poor. She was a theologian in her own right. She was a founder of a new religious order. She was also a preacher and teacher. She was a penitent and a monastic. Not only was she the first woman to join the Franciscan movement, but she was also the first woman to receive the privilege of poverty from the Holy See.

If we were to define Clare’s theology it would have to be defined using the term Eucharistic. Not only did Clare dedicate her life to perpetual adoration of the most blessed Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but she wrote great writings about the Eucharist. She would often remind her sisters and even the friars that the Eucharist is a cosmic reality that unites heaven and earth. When one enters into the presence of the Eucharist one steps out of ones own time and space to enter into God’s time and space. In reaching down to man and becoming flesh and blood, Christ also elevated man to his stature and presents him to God the Father, sinful, sorrowful and redeemed through Christ’s body and blood.

When Francis asked Clare if she was following him, she responded that she was walking in deeper footsteps, which pleased Francis. For Francis did not want to be followed. He wanted men and women to follow Christ and walk alongside him on the journey and this is what Clare did. Like Francis, she understood the mystery and the glory of poverty. She understood that without poverty, man is trapped in this world. One cannot enter into the Kingdom of God unless one becomes like Christ on the cross whose only robe is man’s sinfulness.

And so our holy Mother Clare takes upon herself, not only her own sins, but the sins of the world through a life of penance in reparation for herself and the world. Her enclosure is not the same as other enclosed communities who enter the enclosure to separate themselves from the world in order to pray, which is good in and of itself. No . . . Clare saw the enclosure in a different light. In the enclosure she found true joy. The enclosure was not a hardship for Clare, but a peace of heaven on earth.

Unlike the Benedictine tradition where the enclosure provides an opportunity for silence and solitude, Clare’s enclosure provides a sacred space to adore God in communion with her sisters. The difference between Clare’s enclosure and that of St. Benedict is in the emphasis that Clare places on the common life. Now, Benedict’s model certainly inspired the external structures of the enclosure. And Benedict’s model is meritorious. Let’s not take anything away from Benedict’s enclosure. It is holy and good in and of itself.

But Clare’s enclosure is different. It is truly Franciscan, not Benedictine. In Clare’s enclosure one finds that there is a stress on the importance of family life. The nuns are to be truly sisters to each other. They are not sisters because they are members of one community. They are sisters because they have been given to each other by the Holy Spirit. The message that Clare preaches to the world is the importance of the family enclosure. Too many families do not spend enough time together in the enclosure of their home. They’re too busy running in every direction. Clare reminds us that the family is the first monastery where the new Christian is formed and sustained. Clare’s enclosure is also one of extreme poverty. The nuns own nothing individually nor as an order. Even the house in which they live is on loan to them, either by a private owner or the local diocese. It was Clare’s vision that the family should not focus on their property, but on their Father in heaven. Today, this message remains just as relevant as it was in the 13th century. Families are more focused on their homes than on the people who live in them and on God the Father who provided it for them. Finally, in Clare’s enclosure joy is the rule that governs the family. Clare reminds her sisters and those who came to her monastery for spiritual guidance that life in the presence of God should be one of joy. There is not reason to be sad, if God is our all.




Thank you Brother JR for an inspiring article on St Clare - details of which I was ignorant. That will make tomorrow extra special when I remember her feast day (that is five and a half hours from now in this neck of the woods).


Thank you, Brother. Today has been one of those long, rainy, vacation days when a 4 year old and a 1 year old toddler have me running backwards and contemplating a life of crime. Your statement that “Clare reminds us that the family is the first monastery where the new Christian is formed and sustained” is a timely reminder that Jesus is present even among the soiled diapers, unwashed breakfast dishes and unmade beds, stubbed toes and hair sprinkled with maple syrup. St. Claire is indeed a remarkable woman whose saintliness echoes through the ages. I’ve always loved St. Claire, so much in fact, that my second daughter received the name Claire in her honor. I wish you and all the Franciscan family great joy as you celebrate the solemnity of our good St. Claire. And if you happen to have an old Franciscan secret for removing maple syrup from hair, it would be greatly appreciated.


thank you for sharing this :slight_smile:


beautifully written. St. Clare was such a wonderful woman.


Clare is one of those people who has much to teach the modern world. As her name says, “clarity.” She had a special gift for seeing things very clearly. Once, St. Francis was discerning whether he should remain in the world as a lay man or enter a monastery and become a monk, dedicating his life to contemplation. He asked Mother Clare what he should do. Clare, without hesitation responded, “The Lord has not called you to the monastic life. He has called you to preach. Though the monastic life is the highest form of consecration to God, it is not for you. For the Church is in crisis and she needs knights who will restore her and lead her into the future. The world is changing and the faith needs protectors. God called you to protect the Gospels and their purity. While it is true that you can conquer many souls thrugh prayer, you cannot lead from the fortress of an enclosure. There are those who are called to royalty, those are the moanstics, who live in the house of the King. There are others who are called to be knighthood, those are the brothers who go out and fight for the King. You, Father Francis, are not royalty, you are a knight. Remain in the world and protect the Gospel message.” And so Brother Francis remained in the world as a layman, with his friars. Thanks to Clare’s advice and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, his friars number in the millions around the world.

But Clare also saw other visions. At the canonization of St. Francis she ran into Pope Gregory IV who had come to Assisi to canonize Brother Francis. She asked him about her rule of poverty. The pope wanted to dispense her from the part of the rule that said that the nuns could not own property. He was concerned that if the nuns did not own property, they would be unable to feed themselves. He was comfortable with their no owning individual property, but wanted the community to own property as a corporate entity.

Pop Gregory told Clare that he would dispense her from the vow of absolute poverty and allow the nuns to own property as a corporation, but no individually. He thought this would satisfy Mother Clare. Upon hearing this she responded to the pope, “Your Holiness, I thank you for your kindness. However, I do not want to be dispensed from following the Gospel. I want to be dispensed from my sins.” She had a very clear idea of where Christ wanted her to go.

After formal canonization was instituted in the Latin Church, Clare was the second saint to be canonized without being beatified. The first saint to be canonized without formal investigation or beatification was Francis of Assisi, 18 months after he died on the reconnassance of the pope. The pope did not want to go through the formal process of investigating her life or her work. He declared that she was a saint on his own reconnessance. She was canonized less than two years after her death. The actual miracles began to happen after her canonization.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


Thanks for posting this.

There is a Poor Clare monastery not too far from where I live and their chapel is open duirng the day for people to stop in for a visit. I’ve dropped in when I can. Very special place. St Clare was truly amazing…


Br. JR… Have you seen this film, on the lives of St. Clare and St. Francis?

It is beautifully filmed and claims “historical accuracy” and I was wondering if you had seen it, and what you thought? I liked it, very much. But I was wondering how historically accurate, it truly is. Thanks for your comments/opinions.

God bless.


I did see it. It’s very accurate. They only have one mistake and it’s very minor. Br. Illuminato was Francis’ companion on his mission to the Saracens. But his faithful sidekick was Br. Leo. They do not bring Br. Leo into the picture at all. I watched it in Italian to see if it was a mistake in the translation, but it was not. But that’s a minor mistake that I’m sure Br. Leo would not mind.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


Today, on the feast of our holy Mother Clare, let us pray to her that she will help young women realize how much God loves them, just as she did. The only end to abortion, promiscuity, drugs, violence and other destructive behaviors among young women is the full knowledge of the intensity of God’s love for them.

Clare models that knowledge for the world with great clarity as her name suggests.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:




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