Clare was the first of three children born to Favarone and Ortlana Offreduccio. Her family was of noble status, as they formed a part of the urban arisocratic "maiores" who ran the town. During the civil wars of Assisi in 1201, Clare's family was forced out by the "minores" and fled to Perugia where they were safely housed by friends. Perugia eventually defeated Assisi but it was still several years before Clare and her family could return home.
Her uncle and brother to Favarone, Monaldo, was the head of her household.
The extent of her formal education is unknown. However, her literacy (reading and writing) is evidenced through her devotional literature and letters.
Her family was considered nobility, forming the urbanised aristocracy of Assisi. Their house (domus) was located in the center of the town, reflecting their social standing. However, as maiores, most of their real political power lay outside of the town, in Perugia.
Abbess of S. Damiano.
Order of St. Clare
Corresponded with Popes Innocent III, Gregory IX, and Innocent IV. Worked closely with St. Francis of Assisi.
Rule (1253), Testament (1253), letters of correspondence with her sister (1234-1253), letters to other abbesses in various communities around Europe.
Clare was born on July 16, 1194 in Assisi, Italy. She was raised in a family of nobility, and as such, she was expected by her family to marry at the age of 18. However, on the Palm Sunday of 1212, she left home in an act of resistence to the arranged marriage her parents had hoped for. Instead, she decided to follow a man named Francis, who had pledged his life to the Gospel. She fled her family to a church called St. Mary of Portiuncula, wherin Francis consecrated her by cutting off all her hair and thereby committing her to live by the Rule of the Gospel.
During that same year, she joined the Benedictine monastery San Paolo delle Abbadesse. There, she acted as a servant to the nuns. However, she did not wish to follow the Benedictine order and left the monastery for the Franciscan community Sant'Angelo in Panzo. After much correspondence between her and her sister Caterina (who used the alias Agnes), the sisters rejoined in Panzo and moved to the monastery S. Damiano.
From 1212 onward, Clare and Francis worked to establish S. Damiano as a Franciscan monastery governed by the Rule of the Gospel. Clare helped found the group known as the "Poor Ladies of Clare." These women dedicated their lives to living in utter poverty, and indeed, were granted the Privilege of Poverty by Pope Innocent III. This Privilege awarded them the right to no settled income or individual property.
Clare remained at S. Damiano for the next 43 years of her life, and though she wished to be considered an equal among the rest of the women, Francis gave her the title of "abbess." This allowed her to govern the community, and indeed, she took on the responsibilities of the monastery and Franciscan community after Francis' death in 1226.
By the time of her death in 1253, there were fifty sisters living at S. Damiano and over twenty more monasteries of the Poor Ladies. Right before her death on August 11, Pope Innocent IV declared her Rule to be the governing rule for the Order of the Poor Ladies. In 1263, Pope Urban IV changed the name of this order to the Order of St. Clare.