Basilica of Santa Chiara (St. Clare)

 

Upon Saint Clare’s death in mid 1200s, the exterior of the ancient church of Saint George -hosting Saint Francis’ body until 1230- was re-built in the Gothic style and entitled to Saint Clare.

Clare originated from a bourgeois family; she escaped an arranged marriage and devoted herself to contemplative life. When she was just 18, she left her home and joined Francis and his friars at the Porziuncola. Francis himself cut her hair as a sign of her penitent condition. Later, Clare settled in the church of San Damiano and was joined by her mother and sister and later on by nearly fifty women. Fascinated by Francis and his way of life, Clara founded a group of sisters, the “Clarisse” (Poor Clares) living in poverty, devoted to prayer.

Her life was plagued by a long lasting illness. According to a legend, in 1240, despite being critically ill, she managed to save the convent from a Saracen attack by waving an ostensorium out of the window. She died in 1253 at the age of sixty and was sanctified only two years later. Another legend tells she was bed-ridden because of her illness so she couldn’t attend Christmas mass together with Francis, so an unbelievable event took place and, as if in a video conference, Claire had a “live” vision showing her the function! Such a miracle earned her the title of Patron Saint of telecommunications.

The left side of the church dedicated to Saint Clare is supported by three imposing arches, and has a splendid pink and white banded façade, opening into a rose window at its highest point.