Clare

c.1193-1253. First abbess of the Poor Clares.* Born at Assisi into a wealthy family, she was attracted by the rule and lives of St. Francis and his friars. At the age of sixteen she ran away from home. At Portiuncala in 1212 Francis usurped the bishop's privilege and received her profession as a nun. At first he placed her in a Benedictine convent, but when her sister Agnes and other women came to join her, he established a community at St. Damian, based on Franciscan lines, with Clare as abbess (1215). This community, the Poor Clares (Clarisses), practiced a strict discipline. Clare governed the convent till her death, though she would have preferred to wander like the friars and to look after the poor and ill. She was canonized by Alexander IV in 1255.