Clare, St, Nuns of

Clare, St., Nuns Of,

an order sometimes called Clarisses or Clarissines. from their founder St. Clara (q.v.). The reputation of St. Clara soon gained her a large number of followers, for whom several monasteries were built in various parts of Italy. In the year 1219 the order passed into Spain, and soon after into France. The rules of the order were drawn up by St. Francis of Assisi in 1224: the Clarisses were forbidden to have any possessions, and silence was enjoined upon them from the compline till the tierce of the following day. Their habit was three tunics and a mantle. After the death of the founder the order made still greater progress, and counted for some time 2000 convents, with 54,000 nuns. After the Reformation there remained in Europe 900 convents, with about 25,000 nuns. In Italy there are monasteries of Clarisses, some of which take the name of "Nuns of the Strict Observance," others that of "Solitaries of the Institution of St. Peter of Alcantara." After Cortez had conquered Mexico, Isabella of Portugal, wife of Charles V, sent thither some nuns of the order of St. Clara, who made several settlements there. Near their monasteries were founded communities of Indian young women, to be instructed by the Clarisses in religion, and such works as were suitable to persons of their sex. When Pope Urban IV mitigated the original rule, those who adopted the mitigated rule were called Urbanists, while the name of Clarisses remained to those who adhered to the original rule. A still stricter rule was observed by the Congregation of St. Colette, founded by St. Colette, who died in 1447, which was again surpassed in austerity by the discalceate Congregation of the Strictest Observance, founded in 1631 in Italy, and the Hermitesses of St. Peter of Alcantara (or Alcantarines), founded in 1676. According to the statistics of 1862, convents were found in Italy, France, Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, Holland, England, Scotland, Spain, Prussia, Ireland, at Macao and Manilla in Asia, in Mexico, and in Central and South America. The number of members was about 6000. — Fehr, Geschichte der Monchsorden, 1, 456 sq. SEE FRANCIS OF ASSISI.

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