Poor Clare Sisters celebrate 800th anniversary

by Alice Popovici

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In a rare voyage outside of their individual monasteries, about 115 Poor Clare sisters from 32 communities throughout the world traveled to St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York earlier this month to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the religious order’s founding, according to the university. The sisters belong to a contemplative, Franciscan order founded in Assisi, Italy, in 1212.

“Because the Poor Clares are enclosed, this event is very historic,” Felician Franciscan Sr. Suzanne Kush, director of the Franciscan Center for Social Concern at St. Bonaventure, said in a press release. “For them to come and meet with Clares from other monasteries, to be enriched by speakers and share their own experiences of the movement together in their life as Clares, becomes a very special time.”

Eight hundred years ago, Saint Clare left her home in Assisi to join the Franciscan movement started by St. Francis of Assisi, eventually petitioning the Vatican to sanction a rule that calls for “absolute poverty in dedication to Christ,” states the press release. The women who joined Saint Clare as her movement grew became known as the “poor ladies,” and led to the founding of the second order of the Franciscan movement.

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