Clare Gambacorta, Bl.

views updated


Widow, Dominican reformer; b. Pisa, 1362; d. there, April 17, 1419. At birth she was named Tora; she was the daughter of Pietro Gambacorta, ruler of Pisa (136993), and the sister of (Bl.) peter of pisa. At the age of 12 she accepted a political marriage, but was widowed at 15. Urged by (St.) catherine of siena to abandon secular life, she joined the poor clares the next year, receiving the name Clare. She was immediately removed by her family and imprisoned. Released by her father after five months, she was allowed to join the dominicans and was free eventually to found a community of strict observance. In 1382, she and five companions established the convent of S. Domenico in Pisa. Her virtues attracted vocations of quality, won the affection of Pisans, and, together with her insistent pleadings, influenced the reform of the Dominican Order. Clare's father and two brothers were killed in an uprising in 1393; one of them met death at the door of the monastery when, to protect the nuns, she had to refuse him refuge. She heroically pardoned the murderers. A special fragrance, noted on her person in life, was observed at her death and renewed, 13 years later, when her body was exhumed, at which time her tongue was found incorrupt. Pius VIII approved her cult in 1830. Clare's spirit as well as her fidelity to the strict observance still mark the community she founded.

Feast: April 17.

Bibliography: Archives, Monastero S. Domenico, Pisa. n. zucchelli, La B. Chiara Gambacorta (Pisa 1914). d. toncelli, La. B. Chiara Gambacorta (Pisa 1920). m. e. murphy, Blessed Clara Gambacorta (Fribourg 1928). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 2:117119. t. mcglynn, This Is Clara of Pisa (Pisa 1962).

[t. mcglynn]