Saint Clare of Assisi

St. Clare (1194–1253) was born in Assisi, Italy, to an aristocratic family, the daughter of a wealthy count. From childhood she was pious after the example of her mother, and as she grew up her longing for God increased. When she was eighteen she heard St. Francis of Assisi preach a Lenten mission in the local church. His holy example kindled her desire to renounce the world and follow Christ. She secretly begged Francis to help her live as he did, in simplicity according to the Gospel. St. Francis agreed. On Palm Sunday, Clare attended High Mass in all her finery for the final time. There she received a mystical experience which confirmed her desire to renounce the world and follow Christ after the example of St. Francis. That same night she secretly fled her father's house, along with two companions, to a chapel where St. Francis awaited her with his friars. She exchanged her fine clothes for a rough tunic and veil, and had her hair cut off. Francis placed Clare for a time with Benedictine nuns to escape the wrath of her family. She was soon joined by her sister, Agnes, and other young women whom St. Francis inspired. He permanently housed the women, with Clare as abbess, in the Church of San Damiano outside Assisi. This became the first foundation of the Poor Clare nuns. St. Clare lived there for the next forty years in prayer, penance, and fasting. She is the patroness of eyes and eye diseases, the telephone, and television. Her feast day is August 11th.
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