St Clare

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Founder of the Poor Clares. Patron of television. Born in Assisi to the Offreduccio family, at 18 Clare was so impressed by the preaching of St Francis she renounced all her possessions and took the habit of a nun. She was formed at two nearby Benedictine convents. Francis then offered her and her companions a small house next to the church of San Damiano which he had restored.

In 1216, she became abbess of a community of women who wished to follow the rule and spirit of Francis. They lived without owning any possessions, never ate meat and did without shoes and stockings.

Clare said: "They say we are too poor. Can a heart which possesses God really be called poor?"

Like the Franciscan Friars, the Poor Clares soon spread to other parts of Europe, especially Spain, Bohemia, France and England. Clare lived all her life in Assisi, praying and serving the community.

Twice, Assisi was in danger of being sacked by the armies of the Emperor Frederick II. Although she was ill, Clare was carried to the wall with a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament, at which, her biographers say, the armies fled. In art she is often depicted holding a monstrance.

Clare died in 1253 and was canonised just two years later.

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