St. Clare was born in Assisi on July 16, 1194, as Chiara Offreduccio, the beautiful eldest daughter of Favorino Scaff, Count of Sasol-Rosso and his wife Portolans. Although she was of noble birth, she learned early on from her mother the practice of generosity to the poor and devotion to prayer. After hearing Francis of Assisi preach and observing his dedication to a Gospel way of life, she was inspired to leave her privileged circumstances and embrace radical poverty, prayer and service to the poor as her new way of life. Together with Francis, Clare founded what later became the “Franciscan Order”. The women who joined her became known as the “Poor Ladies of San Damiano” and today are known as “the Poor Clares”.
Clare became known as a healer of the sick, a confidant of St. Francis and some of his brothers, and a woman determined to chart her own course for her new community of women. She spoke out to popes and bishops about her Gospel way of life and refused to compromise on what she felt God was calling her to. Eventually, she was successful. In the end, through her dedication to simple living, care for creation, commitment to non-violence, and courageous service to the poor who came seeking help, she and Francis changed the Church and the world. Their prophetic witness continues to inspire followers not only in the Catholic Church, but people from diverse nations and religions, more than 800 years after their deaths.
God, we thank you for the inspiring life of St Clare. Her wisdom and courage call us to open our hearts to the message of the Gospel. We ask that you continue to open our hearts to the Gospel values that changed Clare’s life—reaching out to the poor and oppressed, living simply, caring for creation and embracing compassionate non-violence.