St. Clare of Assisi was born in 1193 to a noble family. Before she was born, her mother received a sign that her daughter would be a bright light of God in the world. As a child, Clare was drawn to prayer and the Blessed Sacrament, and had a tender love for the poor.
When she was 18, Clare heard St. Francis of Assisi preaching, and knew that God wanted her to consecrate herself to him. She left her house the next evening, and met St. Francis, telling him that she wanted to follow him. Francis gave her his tunic, cut off her hair, and sent her to a Benedictine convent. Her younger sister Agnes joined her, and the girls overcame great pressure from their families to return home.
When Clare was 22, Francis made her superior in a small house beside the convent. She held this post for the next 42 years, until her death. The Poor Clares were known for their austere lifestyle, walking barefoot, begging for alms, wearing sackcloths, and forsaking possessions. Their lives were focused on contemplation.
Many young noble women left their homes to join Clare. Her order grew rapidly, and houses were founded all over Italy.
Clare was known for her holiness, so much so that the pope visited her on her deathbed in 1253, and wanted to canonize her immediately after her death. He was advised by his cardinals to wait, and Clare was made a saint just two years later.