The Poor Clares, officially the Order of Saint Clare (Latin : Ordo sanctae Clarae) – originally referred to as the Order of Poor Ladies, and later the Clarisses, the Minoresses, the Franciscan Clarist Order, and the Second Order of Saint Francis – are members of a contemplative Order of nuns in the Catholic Church. The Poor Clares were the second Franciscan branch of the order to be established. Founded by Saints Clare of Assisi and Francis of Assisi on Palm Sunday in the year 1212, they were organized after the Order of Friars Minor (the first Order), and before the Third Order of Saint Francis for the laity. As of 2011 there were over 20,000 Poor Clare nuns in over 75 countries throughout the world. They follow several different observances and are organized into federations.
The Poor Clares follow the Rule of St. Clare , which was approved by Pope Innocent IV the day before Clare's death in 1253. The main branch of the Order (O.S.C.) follows the observance of Pope Urban. Other branches established since that time, who operate under their own unique Constitutions, are the Colettine Poor Clares (P.C.C.) (founded 1410), the Capuchin Poor Clares (O.S.C. Cap) (founded 1538) and the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration (P.C.P.A.) (founded 1854).
The Poor Clares were founded by Clare of Assisi in the year 1212. Little is known of Clare's early life, although popular tradition hints that she came from a fairly well-to-do family in Assisi. At the age of eighteen, inspired by the preaching of Francis in the cathedral, Clare ran away from home to join his community of friars at the Portiuncula, some way outside the town.Although, according to tradition, her family wanted to take her back by force, Clare's dedication to holiness and poverty inspired the friars to accept her resolution. She was given the habit of a nun and transferred to Benedictine monasteries, first at Bastia and then at Sant' Angelo di Panzo, for her monastic formation.
By 1216 Francis was able to offer Clare and her companions a monastery adjoining the chapel of San Damiano where she became abbess. Clare's mother, two of her sisters and some other wealthy women from Florence soon joined her new Order. Clare dedicated her order to the strict principles of Francis, setting a rule of extreme poverty far more severe than that of any female order of the time.Clare's determination that her order not be wealthy or own property, and that the nuns live entirely from alms given by local people, was initially protected by the papal bull Privilegium paupertatis, issued by Pope Innocent III. By this time the order had grown to number three monasteries.
The movement quickly spread, though in a somewhat disorganized fashion, with several monasteries of women devoted to the Franciscan ideal springing up elsewhere in Northern Italy. At this point Ugolino, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia (the future Pope Gregory IX), was given the task of overseeing all such monasteries and preparing a formal rule. Although monasteries at Monticello, Perugia, Siena, Gattajola and elsewhere adopted the new Rule - which allowed for property to be held in trust by the papacy for the various communities - it was not adopted by Clare herself or her monastery at San Damiano.Ugolino's Rule, originally based on the Benedictine one, was amended in 1263 by Pope Urban IV to allow for the communal ownership of property, and was adopted by a growing number of monasteries across Europe. Communities adopting this less rigorous rule came to be known as the Order of Saint Clare (O.S.C.) or the Urbanist Poor Clares.
Clare herself resisted the Ugolino Rule, since it did not closely enough follow the ideal of complete poverty advocated by Francis. On 9 August 1253, she managed to obtain a papal bull, Solet annuere, establishing a rule of her own, more closely following that of the friars, which forbade the possession of property either individually or as a community. Originally applying only to Clare's community at San Damiano, this rule was also adopted by many monasteries.Communities that followed this stricter rule were fewer in number than the followers of the rule formulated by Cardinal Ugolino, and became known simply as "Poor Clares" (P.C.) or Primitives.
The situation was further complicated a century later when Saint Colette of Corbie restored the primitive rule of strict poverty to 17 French monasteries. Her followers came to be called the Colettine Poor Clares (P.C.C.). Two further branches, the Capuchin Poor Clares (O.S.C. Cap.) and the Alcantarines, also followed the strict observance.The later group disappeared as a distinct group when their observance among the friars was ended, with the friars being merged by the Holy See into the wider observant branch of the First Order.
The spread of the order began in 1218 when a monastery was founded in Perugia; new foundations quickly followed in Florence, Venice, Mantua, and Padua. Saint Agnes of Assisi, a sister of Clare, introduced the order to Spain, where Barcelona and Burgos hosted major communities. The order further expanded to Belgium and France where a monastery was founded at Reims in 1229, followed by Montpellier, Cahors, Bordeaux, Metz, and Besançon. A monastery at Marseilles was founded directly from Assisi in 1254.The Poor Clares monastery founded by Queen Margaret in Paris, St. Marcel, was where she died in 1295. King Philip IV and Queen Joan founded a monastery at Moncel in the Beauvais diocese. By A.D. 1300 there were 47 Poor Clare monasteries in Spain alone.
The first Poor Clare monastery in England was founded in 1286 in Newcastle upon Tyne.In Medieval England, where the nuns were known as "Minoresses", their principal monastery was located near Aldgate, known as the Abbey of the Order of St Clare. The order gave its name to the still-extant street known as Minories on the eastern boundary of the City of London.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII, several religious communities formed in Continental Europe for English Catholics. One such was a Poor Clare monastery founded in 1609 at Gravelines by Mary Ward.Later expelled from their monastery by the French Revolutionary Army in 1795, the community eventually relocated to England. They settled first in Northumberland, then in 1857 built a monastery in Darlington, which was in existence until 2007.
Following Catholic Emancipation in the first half of the 19th century, other Poor Clares came to the United Kingdom,eventually establishing communities in, e.g., Notting Hill (1857, which was forced to relocate by the local Council in the 1960s, and settled in the village of Arkley in 1969), Woodchester (1860), Much Birch (1880), Arundel (1886), Lynton (founded from Rennes, France, 1904), Woodford Green (1920–1969), York (1865–2015) and Nottingham (1927).
The community in Luton was founded in 1976 to meet a shortage of teachers for local Catholic schools. It was originally based at St Clare's Convent, 18 London Road, a large Edwardian house. In 1996, the community refocused on a ministry of social work and prayer, and moved to a smaller, modern home at Abigail Close, Wardown Park.
Communities of Colettine Poor Clares were founded in England at Baddesley Clinton (1850–2011),Ellesmere, Shropshire and Woodchester. They have communities in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and in Bothwell, Scotland (1952). In Wales, there is a monastery in Hawarden. The one that used to be based in Neath has moved to Glasgow.
In Ireland there are seven monasteries of the Colettine Observance. The community with the oldest historical roots is the monastery on Nuns' Island in Galway, which traces its history back to the monastery in Gravelines. Originally a separate community of Irish women under a common mother superior with the English nuns, they moved to Dublin in 1629, the first monastic community in Ireland for a century. The first Abbess was Cicely Dillon, a daughter of Theobald Dillon, 1st Viscount Dillon. War forced the community to move back to Galway in 1642. From that point on, persecution under the Penal Laws and war led to repeated destruction of their monastery and scattering of the community over two centuries, until 1825, when fifteen nuns were able to re-establish monastic life permanently on the site.
Later monasteries were founded in 1906 in both Carlow and Dublin. From these, foundations were established in Cork (1914) and Ennis (1958). In 1973, an enclosed community of nuns of the Franciscan Third Order Regular in Drumshanbo, founded in England in 1852 and established there in 1864, transferred to the Second Order, under this Observance.
Currently there are communities of Colettine Poor Clares in Bruges, Belgium, as well as in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and in Larvik, Norway. There are several monasteries in Hungary, Lithuania and Poland of the Urbanist and Capuchin Observances.
There are notable Clarissine Churches in Bamberg, Bratislava, Brixen, and Nuremberg. There also is a small community in Münster, Germany and a Capuchin monastery in Sigolsheim, France.
After an abortive attempt to establish the Order in the United States in the early 1800s by three nuns who were refugees of Revolutionary France, the Poor Clares were not permanently established in the country until the late 1870s.
A small group of Colettine nuns arrived from Düsseldorf, Germany, seeking a refuge for the community, which had been expelled from their monastery by the government policies of the Kulturkampf . They found a welcome in the Diocese of Cleveland, and in 1877 established a monastery in that city. At the urging of Mother Ignatius Hayes, O.S.F., in 1875 Pope Pius IX had already authorized the sending of nuns to establish a monastery of Poor Clares of the Primitive Observance from San Damiano in Assisi. After the reluctance on the part of many bishops to accept them, due to their reliance upon donations for their maintenance, a community was finally established in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1878.
Currently there are also monasteries in (among other places): Alexandria, Virginia (P.C.C);Andover, Massachusetts; Belleville, Illinois (P.C.C.); Bordentown, New Jersey; Boston, Massachusetts; Brenham, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio (O.S.C., P.C.C. and P.C.P.A.); Evansville, Indiana; Los Altos Hills, California; Memphis, Tennessee; metropolitan Richmond, Virginia; New Orleans; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; Rockford, Illinois (P.C.C.); Roswell, New Mexico (P.C.C.); Saginaw, Michigan; Spokane, Washington; / Travelers Rest, South Carolina; Washington D.C.; and Wappingers Falls, New York. Additionally there are monasteries in Alabama (P.C.P.A.), California, Florida, Missouri, Montana and Tennessee. Since the 1980s, the nuns of New York City have formed small satellite communities in Connecticut and New Jersey. There is one monastery of the Capuchin Observance in Denver, Colorado, founded from Mexico in 1988.
There are three monasteries of the Order in Canada: St. Clare's Monastery at Duncan, British Columbia; and at Mission, British Columbia; and a French-speaking community in Valleyfield, Quebec.
There have been monasteries of the Order in Mexico since colonial days. The Capuchin nuns alone number some 1,350 living in 73 different monasteries around the country.
A monastery was founded in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, by nuns from the community in Memphis, Tennessee, in November 1981, in the early days of a bloody civil war which ravaged that country; as of 2011, it consisted of seven nuns; five Guatemalans and two Salvadorans.
The Poor Clares were introduced to the Philippines in the 17th century, when a small community of Colettine nuns were authorized by the King of Spain and the Minister General of the Order to go there to found a monastery. They were led by Mother Jeronima of the Assumption, P.C.C., who was appointed Abbess. Leaving Madrid in April 1620, they arrived in Manila on 5 August 1621. The monastery still stands and serves an active community of nuns.
Communities are now also established in Aritao, the Philippines, and Kiryū, Gunma, Japan, which was founded from the monastery in Boston in 1965.
Saint Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco, was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
The Franciscans are a group of related mendicant religious orders within the Catholic Church, founded in 1209 by Saint Francis of Assisi. These orders include the Order of Friars Minor, the Order of Saint Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. They adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of the founder and of his main associates and followers, such as Clare of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Elizabeth of Hungary, among many others.
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an religious order of friars within the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Friar Roberto Genuin.
A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.
Agnes of Bohemia, O.S.C., also known as Agnes of Prague, was a medieval Bohemian princess who opted for a life of charity, mortification of the flesh and piety over a life of luxury and comfort. Although she was venerated soon after her death, Agnes was not beatified or canonized for over 700 years.
The Order of Friars Minor Conventual, commonly known as the Conventual Franciscans, or Minorites, is a branch of the Catholic Order of Friars Minor, founded by Francis of Assisi in 1209.
Saint Agnes of Assisi, O.S.C., was the younger sister of Saint Clare of Assisi and one of the first abbesses of the Order of Poor Ladies.
A discalced congregation is a religious congregation that goes barefoot or wears sandals. These congregations are often distinguished on this account from other branches of the same order. The custom of going unshod was introduced into the West by St Francis of Assisi for men and by St Clare of Assisi for women.
The Third Order of Saint Francis, is a third order in the Franciscan order. The preaching of Francis of Assisi, as well as his example, exercised such an attraction on people that many married men and women wanted to join the First Order (friars) or the Second Order (nuns), but this being incompatible with their state of life, Francis found a middle way and in 1221 gave them a rule according to the Franciscan charism. Those following this rule became members of the Franciscan Third Order, sometimes called tertiaries. It includes religious congregations of men and women, known as Third Order Regulars; and fraternities of men and women, Third Order Seculars. The latter do not wear a religious habit, take vows, or live in community. However, they do gather together in community on a regular basis. "They make profession to live out the Gospel life and commit themselves to that living out the Gospel according to the example of Francis."
Henry de Beaume, O.F.M., , also known as Hugh Balme, was a Franciscan friar, priest and theologian. He became a supporter of the reform work of Colette of Corbie, among the Poor Clare nuns, which, in turn, led a reform movement of his own branch of the Franciscan Order. He is honored as a Blessed within the Order.
Colette of Corbie, P.C.C., was a French abbess and the foundress of the Colettine Poor Clares, a reform branch of the Order of Saint Clare, better known as the Poor Clares. She is honored as a saint in the Catholic Church. Due to a number of miraculous events claimed during her life, she is venerated as the patron saint of women seeking to conceive, expectant mothers, and sick children.
The Capuchin Poor Clares were founded in Naples, Italy, in 1538, by Ven. Maria Laurentia Longo. The order still exists and it now has groups in the United States. Members are referred to as Capuchinesses.
St. Clare's Monastery is a monastery of the Order of St. Clare in Duncan, British Columbia, Canada. The nuns of the order also go by the name "Poor Clares". They are a contemplative community of women who live the charism of Saint Clare of Assisi and form the Second Order in the movement started by Saint Francis of Assisi.
The Blessed Angelina of Marsciano, T.O.R., (or Angelina of Montegiove was an Italian Religious Sister and foundress, and is a beata of the Roman Catholic Church. She founded a congregation of Religious Sisters of the Franciscan Third Order Regular, known today as the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Angelina. She is generally credited with the founding of the Third Order Regular for women, as her religious congregation marked the establishment of the first Franciscan community of women living under the Rule of the Third Order Regular authorized by Pope Nicholas V.
Franciscan spirituality in Protestantism refers to spirituality in Protestantism inspired by the Catholic friar Saint Francis of Assisi. Emerging since the 19th century, there are several Protestant adherent and groups, sometimes organised as religious orders, which strive to adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Saint Clare of Assisi is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honour as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares. Her feast day is on 11 August.
Mary Magdalen Bentivoglio, O.S.C. was an Italian nun of the Order of St. Clare of the Primitive Observance. She was sent to the United States to found the first monastery of the order in the country and eventually established three monastic communities there before her death. The cause for her possible canonization is now being studied by the Holy See, by which she has been granted the religious title of Servant of God.
When referring to Roman Catholic religious orders, the term Second Order refers to those Orders of cloistered nuns which are a part of the mendicant Orders that developed in the Middle Ages.
The Colettine Poor Clares are a reform branch of the Order of St. Clare, founded by Clare of Assisi in Italy in 1211. They follow the interpretation of the Rule of St. Clare established by Saint Colette in 1410, originally a French hermit and member of the Third Order of St. Francis.
The Convento de Santa Clara la Real is a convent of the Poor Clares located in the city of Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Spain. The present convent was founded in the middle of the 14th century by Toledan noblewoman María Meléndez, and is located near other monasteries of note, such as the monastery of Santo Domingo el Real and the Convent of Capuchins of Toledo.
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