Poor Clare Colettine Nuns of Cleveland, Ohio
First Permanent Foundation in the United States

 

 
Nearly eight hundred years ago in the heart of young Francis Bernardone of Assisi, a new song was born in the life of the Church. Eager hearts listened. Perhaps no one caught that melody and sang it more vibrantly than his compatriot, the noble Clare Offreducio. On the night of Palm Sunday, March 18, 1212, Clare fled her home and received the habit of poverty from Francis in the tiny Portiuncula chapel. That was the beginning. The Gospel life envisioned by Francis spread like wild fire among men and women, first through Italy and then beyond its borders into Europe and lands farther afield.


 Through the following centuries, the Franciscan Order experienced the ups and downs of any big family. Christ promised Saint Clare that he would always protect her daughters, and in a time when the Order was experiencing a lessening of fervor, He sent one of Clare's spiritual daughters, Saint Colette of Corbie, France, to fan the embers to a renewed blaze of warmth and light again. Poor Clares following the primitive observance restored by Colette are often referred to as Poor Clare Colettines.
 

One of the monasteries founded by Saint Colette, that of Ghent, Belgium, became the grandmother monastery of our founding monastery in Düsseldorf, Germany. Exiled by the German Kulturkampf, the Düsseldorf nuns fled to the Netherlands in 1875. In 1877, five of those sisters made the long and arduous journey to Cleveland, Ohio, to establish the first permanent Poor Clare monastery in the United States. As in any new beginning, the early years in Cleveland were difficult. But growth came quickly and the Clare-light in America took hold. For our pioneers as for us the ideals of Francis and Clare and Colette are very real. The Gospel is still livable and the Gospel song can still be sung in all its beauty. It is a song that is still heard in the heart of every young woman whom the Lord calls to our community.