St. Clare of Assisi, virgin, follower of Francis and founder of the contemplative Franciscan order of nuns, the Poor Clares, died on August 11, 1253.
During her life as abbess of the convent of the “Poor Ladies” at the church of San Damiano, just outside of Assisi, she sought to live a life of poverty. Many tried to persuade her to receive property but she insisted on following Lady Poverty. When a pope offered to absolve her of her strict vow of poverty she wrote, “Absolve me from my sins, Holy Father, but not from my wish to follow Christ.” Her efforts to preserve the poverty of the Poor Clares were successful when she received the approved Rule two days before her death.
Despite the fact that she never left San Damiano after Francis appointed her abbess in 1215, the order spread throughout Europe. She was in contact with many f them, especially Blessed Agnes of Prague, to whom she once wrote:
“Since the great and good Lord, on entering the Virgin’s womb, chose to look despised, needy, and poor in this world, so that people in dire poverty and deprivation and in absolute need of heavenly nourishment might become rich in him by possessing the kingdom of heaven, then you who have chosen poverty should rejoice and be glad.”