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In 1212, in the city of Assisi in Italy, a young noble woman by the name of Clare di Faverone di Offreduccio gave away her inheritance and left all she had in order to follow in the footsteps of Jesus according to the example of Francis Bernardone and his friars.

Soon other women joined her. They became known as Poor Enclosed Ladies who gave themselves to the love of Christ in a contemplative form of life, and to prayer for the church, the world, and anyone in need. Later on, after Clare's canonization the sisters were given the title "The Order of Saint Clare." Through the centuries they became known as "Clares", and then as "Poor Clares" because of the poverty in which they lived.

Many foundations spread quickly all over the world. In 1233, Clare founded Sts. Cosmas and Damian Monastery in Rome. From there the Monastery of San Lorenzo of Panisperna in Italy was established in 1305. It thrived until 1870 when Garibaldi's troops entered Rome and expelled religious from their houses. San Lorenzo was taken from the sisters. The Minister General of the Franciscan order, Bernardino of Portuguaro, and the nuns themselves felt led by the Holy Spirit to introduce the Primitive Rule of Saint Clare into the United States. In 1875 Sisters Mary Maddalena and Mary Constance started off with the blessing of Pope Pius IX.

After many disappointments and untold sufferings and rejections the first Monastery of Saint Clare was officially established in Omaha, Nebraska, 1878. Thirty-two Poor Clare Monasteries, including five in other countries, are descendant from this first foundation.
In 1906 a small group of Poor Clares came from our monastery in Evansville, Indiana to a building situated on Bennett Street amid factory smokestacks in the South End of Boston. After 28 years of hard work, and difficult times, and the help of many friends they had raised enough money by 1934 to build the present
Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare at Arborway and Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.

The Order of Saint Clare is the largest contemplative Order for women in the Church, with 18,000 nuns in about 900 monasteries throughout the world.