August 12 is the traditional memorial of St. Clare (+1253). It was changed to August 11, the day of her death, in 1970.
Clare was the daughter of Favorino Sciffi, the Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife, Ortolana. Ortolana was a very devout woman who went on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Spain and Rome.
Clare was brought up to be a devout child, herself. As beautiful as she was, it was assumed that she would marry. But, at the age of 18, she heard St. Francis preach a Lenten sermon and she asked him to help her live a life following the Gospel. On Palm Sunday, 1212, Clare, with her aunt and a friend, ran away to the chapel of the Porziuncula to meet Francis. Her hair was cut off and she put on a robe and veil. Then she was placed in a Benedictine convent, not far from her home town. When her father tried to take her home, she refused. Francis then moved her to a convent farther away. She stayed there, joined by her sister, until a small house was built for them next to the church of San Damiano, which Francis had repaired previously.
Clare and Agnes were joined by other women and they lived simply, in seclusion, under a Rule, which Francis had written. They were known as the Poor Ladies of San Damiano. Their lives were completely involved in manual labor and prayer. They went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence.
Within six years, Clare was the abbess. She fought to keep the very strict nature of her order, wishing to copy Francis. Her admiration for the saint led to her playing a significant role in his life.
Clare died August 11, 1253 and was canonized just two years later.
“Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be thou, O God, for having created me.”