8: The Poor Clares

Portrait of St Clare. Simone Martini: Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi, c 1320

St Clare of Assisi, Santa Chiara, was the founder of the order of the Poor Clares, a women’s movement in the Franciscan tradition. After hearing the words of Francis, she abandoned her wealth and joined a Benedictine nunnery.

  When the Poor Clares were founded by St Clare and St Francis in 1212,  the order was set up at San Damiano, the church where Francis had his vision. According to legend, when San Damiano suffered a military attack, Clare berated the soldiers from the door you can see up in the façade and waved her bible at them: they slunk away. The indoor photograph shows what is said to be the location of her death.

  The shrine of St Clare is in the Basilica of Santa Chiara, just up the hill from San Damiano.

The order, correctly known as the Order of St Clare, spread rapidly through Italy, and later, throughout the world.

On to the Frari, Venice

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