St Clare (c1194-1253) was a disciple of St Francis of Assisi, with whom she founded the Order of Poor Ladies, once known in England as the Minoresses, and now as the Poor Clares.
Clare was born at Assisi into a noble family. At 18 she caught spiritual fire when she heard St Francis preach, and ran away from home to join him. Soon, to her father’s increased fury, she was joined by her sister Agnes. In 1216 St Francis established Clare and her companions in a primitive dwelling next to the church of St Damiano in Assisi.
Clare insisted upon extreme austerity and a vow of absolute poverty: this rule, considered by many contemporaries too harsh for women, was confirmed by Pope Gregory IX in 1228. Clare rarely left her convent; nevertheless, she repelled the army of the Emperor Frederick II by appearing on the walls of Assisi with a pyx.
Her Order spread beyond Italy, especially to Spain. There were four houses in England, and the street name Minories, near Aldgate, preserves the memory of the medieval convent in London.
Long invoked for the cure of sore eyes, St Clare has been named the patron saint of television.