St. Clare of Assisi was born into the nobility of Assisi on July 16,1194. She was known by members of her household to be a sensitive child, prayerful and kind. After hearing St. Francis preach, she confided in him her desire to live for God. On the evening of Palm Sunday, in the year 1212, Clare secretly left her stately home with her cousin Pacifica, and never returned. In the Church of ‘Our Lady of the Angels’, Francis, clothed Clare in sackcloth and cut off her hair, signaling her renunciation of the world. She took the veil of religious life from Francis and from that moment vowed to live her life entirely in the service of Jesus, her heavenly spouse.
St. Clare followed her path unwaveringly, adopting the rule of St. Benedict tempered with Francis’s preaching of poverty. She soon gathered a large female following at San Damiano and Francis urged her to set up a convent there. She did so, and became abbess of the new community known as the Poor Clares. Clare’s mother and sisters later joined the order, and there are still thousands of members today.
Very little is known about St. Clare’s life in the cloister. We know she became a living example of the poverty, humility, and mortification expounded by St. Francis. Like St. Francis, Clare was known for her many miracles. Among her most famous feats is using a consecrated Host to ward off invaders. She displayed the Sacrament in a monstrance at the convent gates, and prayed before it; the attackers left. Toward the end of her life on Christmas Eve 1252, Clare was upset that her illness was keeping her from Mass in the new Basilica of St. Francis. Suddenly, she was blessed with a vision of the Mass on her wall, both hearing and seeing it miraculously from several miles away. Because of this vision she has been pronounced the patron saint of television and the patron of sore eyes.
St. Clare died in Assisi on August 11, 1253. She was canonized quickly – on September 26, 1255, by Pope Alexander IV.