"O Blessed Poverty, Who Bestows Eternal Riches"
"The Poor Clare Nuns constitute the second branch of the Franciscan Order, founded in the thirteenth century by Saint Clare under the inspiration and guidance of Saint Francis of Assisi. Over eight hundred years ago, a poor man named Francis Bernadone preached the holy Gospel to a young noblewoman, Clare Offreduccio. Francis kindled the fire of Christ’s love in Clare, and the flame that was lit in her heart continues to burn brightly in her spiritual daughters throughout the world.
Jesus is our Way, and He alone explains the reason why we are here. As cloistered contemplative nuns, we are a sign of the exclusive union of the Church as Bride with her Lord Whom she loves above all things. Our hidden life is a silent proclamation of God’s existence and says that He is worthy of all our love. Our vocation is a precious gift within the mystery of the Church and a source of grace for the world. We dwell 'hidden with Christ in God' (Col 3:3) at the missionary heart of the Church, and through constant prayer and joyful penance we strive to be 'co-workers of God Himself and a support to the frail and failing members of His ineffable Body' (St. Clare)."
-a Poor Clare Nun in Santa Barbara, CA
Types of Poor Clares
Since St. Clare of Assisi's original founding of the Poor Clares in 1212, there have been several reforms and new expressions of the original Rule of the Poor Clares, much like the Carmelite reform of St. Teresa of Avila. Today there are four main expressions of Poor Clare life, which can be identified by the official initials of the Order:
- Order of Saint Clare (OSC), who live according to the original rule of St. Clare of Assisi
- Poor Clare Colettines (PCC), who live according to the 15th century reforms of St. Colette of Corbie
- Capuchin Poor Clares (OSC Cap), who live according to 16th century Capuchin reforms
- Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration (PCPA), who live according to the 1854 charism of Mother Marie Claire Bouillevaux
Below you will find information on monasteries of each Order in the United States.
Order of Saint Clare
This Order follows the original Rule written by St. Clare in the 13th century, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi. It was the first Rule ever to be written by a woman. They profess vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and enclosure. In the U.S., they are grouped in two Federations, the Holy Name Federation and the Mother Bentivoglio Federation. More can be learned about both Federations on the OSC website.
Poor Clare Colettines
This Order follows the reform begun by St. Colette of Corbie in 15th century France. Poor Clare Colettines retain the traditional habit, night rising, perpetual fast and the observance of papal enclosure. They also continue to go barefoot as a sign of Gospel poverty and in witness to the transcendence of God. Many of the Poor Clare Colettines in the U.S. are united in the Federation of Mary Immaculate.
Capuchin Poor Clares
The Capuchin reform of the Franciscan Order in the 16th century resulted in a new order of both Franciscan Frairs and Poor Clare Nuns. The nuns were founded by Venerable Mother Maria Lorenza Longo, whose reformed rule emphasized a life of absolute poverty without any dowry or possessions, austerity in that life, being secluded from the world by a strict cloister, simplicity in fraternal life but an intense life of prayer both during the day and night. The Capuchin Poor Clares in the U.S. are united in the Federation of Our Lady of the Angels.
Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration
The PCPA Order was founded in 1854 by Mother Marie Claire Bouillevaux, under the guidance of a Capuchin Franciscan Priest, Father Bonaventure (John Baptist) Heurlaut. The new Order united the Franciscan form of living the Holy Gospel with special consecration to Eucharistic Adoration in the spirit of thanksgiving. Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has been a part of the Order's charism since its foundation.