Clare (1194-1253) (Chiara Offreduccio) was an Italian noblewoman who became the foundress of an order of nuns now called "Poor Clares".

clare

When Clare heard Saint Francis of Assisi preach, her heart burned with a great desire to imitate Francis and to live a poor humble life for Jesus. So one evening, she ran away from home, and in a little chapel outside Assisi, gave herself to God. Saint Francis cut off her hair and gave her a rough brown habit to wear, tied with a plain cord around her waist. Her parents tried in every way to make her return home, but Clare would not.

Soon her sister, Agnes joined her, as well as other young women who wanted to be brides of Jesus, and live without any money. Clare and her sisters wore no shoes, ate no meat, lived in a poor house, and kept silent most of the time. Yet they were very happy, because Our Lord was close to them all the time.

She also played a significant role in encouraging and aiding Francis, whom she saw as a spiritual father figure, and she took care of him during his illnesses at the end of his life, until his death in 1226. After Francis's death, Clare continued to promote the growth of her order, writing letters to abbesses in other parts of Europe and thwarting every attempt by each successive pope to impose a rule on her order which watered down the radical commitment to corporate poverty she had originally embraced. She did this despite the fact that she endured a long period of poor health until her death.

In the Holy Land, the Poor Clares maintain convents in Jerusalem and in Nazareth.