The Poor Clares in North America
Shortly after the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World, Poor Clares began
to arrive to establish their monasteries. Communities from France, Belgium, and
England failed in attempts to establish permanent foundations. It was only in the last
half of the 1800's, however, that the Poor Clares would be firmly established in North
Poor Clares of the Primitive Observance
Pope Pius IX commissioned two nuns from the Monastery of San Lorenzo in Rome to
establish a community according to the Primitive Rule of St. Clare in the United States.
In October of 1875, Sr. Mary Magdalen and Sr. Constance Bentivoglio sailed to the New
World and began their adventure in America, seeking to establish themselves as Poor
Clares. Several Bishops refused to let them establish in their dioceses, stating that their
strict lifestyle was not compatible with the spirit of the country.
After establishing a house in New Orleans, LA, the sisters were obliged to relocate to
Cleveland, OH. Several German Colletines, exiled by the Kulterkampf, joined them in
Cleveland, but the union was short-lived. The Italian sisters then moved to Omaha, NE
and established there the first monastery of the Primative Observance in the United
States. From there, twenty-two monastery have sprung up in the United States and
western Canada, forming today two Federations: Mother Bentivoglio Federation and
Holy Name Federation.
Poor Clares of the Colettine Reform
The Poor Clare Coletitne Nuns in Holland were forced into exile by the German
Kulterkampf. In 1877 they were invited by the Franciscan Provincial, Fr. Yanknecht,
OFM, to join Mother Magdalen's sisters in Cleveland, OH. Five sisters arrived in
Cleveland in December of 1877, but language and cultural difficults made union
difficult. Mother Magdalen eventually moved her sisters, leaving the Colettine Poor
Clares in Cleveland with Mother Veronica von Elmendorff as the first abbess. Most of
the subsequent monasteries of the Colettine Reform comprise the Federation of Mary
Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration
Founded in France in 1854 as a Third Order cloistered community, the Poor Clares of
Perpetual Adoration eventually affiliated with the Second Order Poor Clares. In 1921 a
small group of these sisters set out from Austria for the United States, and began a
monastery in Cleveland, OH. They now number five monasteries: Cleveland, OH,
Canton, OH, Portsmith, OH, Washington, DC, and Birmingham, AL.
Las Hermanas Cubanas
After experiencing persecution at the hands of the Castro revolutionaries in Havana,
Cuba, members of an ancient Urbanist monastery were forced to flee to the United
States, and found a home with the Poor Clares in New Orleans, LA. Later, those Cuban
sisters, along with some from the New Orleans community, established a monastery in
Brenham, TX and have adopted the Primitive Observance and are members of the
Mother Bentivoglio Federation. This community raises miniature horses to support
Capuchin Poor Clares
The Capuchin Poor Clares are the latest arrivals of Poor Clares to the United States,
coming from Mexico, and blessed with abundant vocations from that country. They
now have three communities: Amarillo, TX, Denver, CO., and Wilmington, DE.
Other Poor Clare Communities
To complete the picture of Poor Clare life in the United States, mention must be made
of the Byzantine Poor Clares in North Royalton, OH and the Anglican Poor Clares of
Mt. Sinai, NY.
From communities in North American, missionary Poor Clares have established
foundation in Japan, Bolivia, Brazil, Korea, Guatemala and Holland.
Taken from homepage of the Poor Clares
Adddress of the Roswell Colettine Poor Clares:
Poor Clare Nuns
Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe
809 E. 19th Street
Roswell, NM 88201 USA
Phone: (505) 622-0868