Saint Clare of Assisi is the foundress of the Poor Clare sisters. She was an extraordinary
woman who live in the XIII century.
The Holy Father Alexander IV inscribed Saint Clare in the catalogue of the saints
in his Bull of canonization. He used these words:"Clare shines brilliantly because
of her outstanding merits. She is also outstanding because of her glory in heaven
and the sublime miracles on earth.
Oh Clare endowed with so many titles: bright even before your conversion, right in
your manner of living, even brighter in your enclosed life and brilliant in splendor
after the course of your mortal life." She was canonized in 1255, two years after
Clare, whose name has the meaning of light, was very well known by the Popes of that
time. They admired her. She also was known and admired by many women of her time
who follow her example. After her death, there were 111 monasteries founded in the
same model of San Damiano.
dedicated herself to the Lord.
Lady Lorenza together with other noble women of Naples dedicated themselves to works
of Charity, seeing Christ in the poor and sick. She was part of several associations
of Prayer and sacred Scripture study. She put her faith into practice in serving
Christ in the poor and needy.
To alleviate the sufferings of the sick, Lady Lorenza enlisted the aid of others
and built a hospital together with other members of the association of the Divine
Love. She was the heart of the association and devoted herself to works of charity
giving special aid and care to the sick. This was one of the biggest projects that
they did. The hospital was especially for the Poor and uncured people. It was established
in 1522. Lady Lorenza begged alms to support it, and also supported it with her
own wealth. She was the director of the hospital for many years. She lived there
and served the sick with her own hands.
During this time Lady Lorenza entrusted her spiritual life to the guidance of Saint
Cajetano. She entrusted to him her desire to found a monastery under the rule of
In 1530 the Capuchins brothers arrived to Naples. The Venerable Mother Lorenza hosted
them in the hospital. The Venerable Lady Lorenza was very much impressed by the way
of life of the Capuchin brothers.
She was already distinguished for her virtue when she embraced The Third Order Of
Saint Francis and gathered several Ladies to live in community. On February 19, 1535
she receive a Bull from Pope Paul III which gave canonical approved for the foundation
to observe the Rule of Saint Clare. The Venerable Mother together with 18 noble women
from Naples started the new Monastery. It was distinguished by its poverty and austerity
of life. These Ladies were under the guidance of Mother Lorenza. They wanted to live
a life of Contemplation. The Venerable Mother Lorenza instructed the sisters in prayer,
self-denial, and mortification.
In 1538 the same Pontiff recognize the new foundation as a monastery of very strict
observance of the Order of Saint Clare. The monastery could have an abbess, 12 Choir
sisters and 7 converses sisters.
In the Bull of Paulo III, the title of abbess and foundress was given to the venerable
Lorenza. She governed the new monastery and directed it to a more faithful observance
of the charisma of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.
Many ladies wanted to join the new monastery, so she asked permission to the Holy
Pope to go to a bigger place and be able to accept more candidates. The Pope gave
her permission to receive more candidates. She could admit 33 sisters.
The name of the first monastery of Capuchin Poor Clares sisters was Santa Maria de
Jerusalem of the Order Of Saint Clare. It was also known as the monastery of the
33. The community of Saint Mary of Jerusalem lived the Rule of Saint Clare very strictly.
The Venerable Lorenza asked the Pope to put the new monastery under the guidance
of the Capuchins. The Pope asked them, by holy obedience, to take the spiritual care
of the new monastery. This happened in 1538. The Capuchins guided the new monastery
to a more faithful living of the Franciscan charisma.
The Monastery of Perugia
The monastery of Perugia was the second community of Capuchin Sisters. Giacoma del
Monte, a Lady with a deep prayer life founded it. She was the sister of the Holy
Father, Julio III.
She lived as a hermit for about 18 years. Lady Giacoma desired to exchange the temporary
things for the eternal ones, and for this reason she wanted to found a monastery
in which the rule of Saint Clare could be observed faithfully.
The Pope, Julio III, approved her desire to found a Monastery of Saint Clare. The
Bull which approved the new monastery was given to her in the year of 1553. In it
was given permission to build the monastery and to bring four professed sisters to
instruct the new novices. The Pope put the monastery under the spiritual care of
the Capuchins Brothers, with the authority to give the monastery a confessor, a Visitator,
and all that was needed for their spiritual growth. They could give some constitutions
to govern the community as well. So in this way the new community learned the spirit
of the Capuchin Reform.
Poverty, seclusion from the world, to live only for God, and a deep prayer life were
part of the reform of the Capuchin Brothers. In their constitutions they required
at least two hours of personal meditation for the less fervent. The more fervent
brothers prayed constantly.
The monastery of Capuchin Sisters in Perugia was the most fruitful one in Italy.
Eight monasteries of Capuchin Sisters took their origin from it. The names of the
monasteries were: Santa Praxedes de Milan in 1570, Recanity in 1594, Santa Maria
de Orfane in 1617, Santo Sepulcro in 1619, Sesena 1621, Fabriano in 1627, Citta de
Castelo in 1643, and Florence in 1627.
The Capuchin reform of brothers grew very fast. They spread through Europe and other
places and brought the rich spirituality of the new reform to those places.
Many women wanted to live the Franciscan charisma like them. So many new monasteries
of Capuchin sisters sprang up everywhere because of the good example of the Capuchin
The monastery of Gubbio
The monastery of the Good Jesus, in Gubbio was founded in 1568. Pope Pio V, approved
it. They wanted to live under the spiritual direction of the Capuchins, make their
Profession in the hands of the Provincial, and dress like them.
They were able to have a confessor from the Capuchin brothers, but could not put
their community under the jurisdiction of the Brothers.
The Monastery of Rome
The monastery of Rome was founded on March 7, 1576. It was started according to
the model of the community in Naples. Four sisters from Naples were sent to teach
the new novices to live as the Capuchin Sisters in Naples. Because of a special decree
of the Pope, the sisters were able be under the jurisdiction of the Capuchin Friars.
In most cases the Capuchin Brothers did not have monasteries of Poor Clares or other
associations under their spiritual care, which was forbidden by their constitutions.
However the sisters asked the Pope and at times were able to have them as confessors,
chaplains and Visitators. In this way the sisters were able to live the Capuchin
reform and the rule of Saint Clare more faithfully.
Monasteries of Capuchin Sisters in Spain
The first community of Capuchin sisters in Spain was founded in 1587. The Holy Father
Sixto V approved it. It was founded in Granada.
Lucia the Ureña was the foundress. She knew that many girls wanted to consecrate
themselves in the religious life, but could not fulfill their desires because they
did not have the Dote (a lot of money) that was require to enter religious life.
She decided to walk to Rome and ask the Pope permission to open a community of Capuchin
sisters. The Pope approved her ideals. They lived the Capuchin life: strict poverty,
austerity of life, and a deep life of prayer during the day and the night were observed
in that monastery.
The Monastery of Barcelona
The monastery of Barcelona, Spain was founded in 1599. This monastery is very important.
Many new foundations of Capuchin Sisters started because of it, in Spain, Mexico
The Venerable Angela Serafina
She was a poor girl. She wanted to consecrate herself to God in a Religious Order,
but the Dote was very high and her family preferred to look for a husband for her.
She married, against her will. She sufferd patiently in her matrimony because of
the bad vices of her husband.
After the death of her husband, she dedicated herself to prayer, penance, and good
works of piety. Wholly devoted to God alone she made every effort to become like
Christ Crucified through love and genuine deeds of penance.
The Lord bestowed on her many mystical graces. She embraced the Third Order of Saint
Francis. The Lord revealed to her that she should ask the Provincial of the Capuchins
to give her the habit of the Capuchin Brothers. After many difficulties, the Provincial
of the Capuchins decided to consent to her request.
During this time, the fame of her virtue was spread around all of Spain. She was
highly esteemed for her virtuous life because God endowed her with many graces.
Among the mystical graces that she received from the Lord were the signs of the Passion
of Our Lord. She asked him to take away the visible signs leaving only the pain.
The Lord granted her request.
Some girls gathered around her, guided by their desire to serve God. She instructed
them in self-denial, and in the life of prayer. The Lord revealed to her in a vision
that she would found a monastery of Capuchin sisters in Barcelona. That seemed impossible
because she was poor.
The Lord provided the appropriate occasion. She was able to talk to the Queen of
Spain, who supported her projects. With the help of the King of Spain, she was able
to found a monastery of Capuchin Sisters. They professed the rule of Saint Clare
and the constitutions of the first monastery of Capuchin Sisters in Naples.
Many new candidates asked to be admitted to this monastery so it grew rapidly. During
the life of Mother Serafina, several foundations took place. With the example of
this extraordinary woman, the sisters grew in number and in holiness. Mother Serafina
died in 1609.
The first monastery in the Americas was opened in Mexico City in 1665.
The founding sisters came from the monastery of Toledo Spain. From that monastery
of Capuchin Poor Clare sisters proceeded many monasteries of Poor Clares in Mexico,
and from those monasteries the five monasteries of Capuchin Poor Clares in the United
The noble Lady Lorenza Longo was born in Catalane Spain in 1463. She was married
to a noble man, John Long. He was chancellor of the counsel of King Fernando of Aragon.
In a visit of the king to Naples, in 1506, she and her husband were among his companions.
During a party she was poisoned by a resentful servant, when she asked for something
to drink. She did not die but as a consequence she was paralyzed. After the death
of her husband she established herself in Naples.
In 1510 she was miraculously healed during a visit to the sanctuary of Loreto. In
addition to the health of her body, the Lord restored the health of her spirit. After
this she dedicated herself to the Lord.
known by the Popes of that time. They admired her. She also was known and admired
by many women of her time who follow her example. After her death, there were 111
monasteries founded in the same model of San Damiano. In that monastery, rebuilt
by Saint Francis, a little bit after his conversion, she lived in cloister for about
42 years. While he was building the church of San Damiano, he prophesied about Saint
Clare and her sisters, saying to some poor people who were around: "came and help
me to built the monastery because the day will come when it will be a dwelling of
great ladies that by their manner of living will glorify the Holy and Most High through
all his Church."