Friday, December 14, 2012

Poor Clare Colettine Nuns

St. Clare of Assisi
St. Clare welcomed me herself. 
I have to admit that this monastery, of all of them, felt most like home. Of course, we are related, so I suppose that that accounts for it. We both follow one of the rules of St. Francis - theirs of St. Clare, mine of the Order of Penance.

It was like coming home to see your older Sisters.

St. Clare and St. Francis founded the Poor Clares just a few years after St. Francis began with the friars. Sort of a romantic story, she ran away from home on the night of Palm Sunday to give her life to God. St. Francis received her vows and she began her life with the Benedictine nuns - to learn how to live the monastic life - but she always kept pure in her heart the call of the little poor man of Assisi. She remained staunch in her following of the highest poverty until the very end.

Sister John Paul Marie, Mother M. Giovanna, Sister Regina
The Colettine nuns follow St. Colette's restoration of the original rule of St. Clare and live a life of radical dedication to Christ.

They live simply, in fasting, silence and prayer - and with an incredible joy that shines through. They take solemn vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Enclosure - and maintain papal enclosure carefully.

They do not own anything, even corporately, although due to legal issues they sometimes administer the property they use under the authority of the local Bishop. The nuns do not work for money to support themselves - as mendicants, they rely entirely on alms. They told about one time when they simply had no cheese, and as this is a staple for supper (they don't eat meat), they were in the midst of a discussion about it's replacement - the doorbell rang and there, standing in the doorway was a friend to offer a gift of cheese.

Apparently that is something the Lord does fairly regularly for them.

Their prayer life centers around the Divine Office, and they pray all seven hours, spaced throughout the day and night. The nuns chant the prayers in English using Gregorian chant modes. They love the Latin hymns and use them and their entire life is centered on the Eucharist.

Crucifix and grill in the convent chapel
The formation process begins with the postulancy, which lasts a year. The novitiate is two years and then the Sister takes simple vows for three years. During this time, the temporarily professed Sister lives in the novitiate and continues to receive formation. At the end of this time, the nun makes solemn profession.

The Colettine Poor Clares wear the traditional Franciscan habitand veil. The cord about their waist has four knots - one for each vow - and they add these at the time of profession.

These Sisters demonstrate a strong family spirit and a happiness that is contagious.

The nuns do not receive e-mail (their computers are cloistered too), but they do have a website, which is maintained by a secular Franciscan friend.


  1. The Sisters are an inspiration in their devotion to our Lord Yeshuah.
    God Bless you
    Paul and Amanda xxx
    We had a lovely time with you.