The Order of St. Clare

Poor Clares i.e. The Order of St. Clare is also called the The Second Franciscan Order. Its Latin name is Ordo Sanctae Clarae (OSC).
The Order originates in Italy and it dates back to the year 1212. It was created by St. Clare of Assisi who wanted to live the Gospel following the example of St. Francis. She chose for herself and her sisters life:
  • focused on adoration of God present and active in the proclaimed Word and in the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the Eucharist,
  • in poverty, penance, prayer of thanksgiving and intercession for every man and for the whole world,
  • in enclosure to remain focused on the presence and actions of God.
We have been present in Poland since 1245 thanks to Blessed Salome, the daughter of duke Leszek White. As the first Polish woman, she took the habit of the Order and became the founder of our community. We were helped out by the community of St. Agnes of Prague. At first we lived in Zawichost, then in Skała near Cracow. In 1316 Prince Vladislaus the Short gave us a monastery situated by St. Andrew the Apostle church in Cracow where we have been living continuously until today.

In order to show our prayer ministry in the heart of the Church and the world, every day we celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours. We often devote our time to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and personal prayer. We get to know the spiritual tradition and the diversity of the Church through personal reading and conferences of the invited guests. We foster sister community while praying together, during recreation, work in the kitchen, garden, laundry, sacristy. We support ourselves by the work which can be done within the enclosure, we accept donations with gratitude.

As part of discernment you may individually register for days of recollection. You may stay in the monastery, join in prayer, get to know our life and spirituality.

See also

Symbol of the order

The identifying mark of the Order of St. Clare is the emblem common to the entire Franciscan family. It shows two wounded hands upon the image of the cross or the image of the letter TAU. This is the vivid picture of life experiences of St. Francis. The right hand is the hand of Christ, it is wounded by nailing to the cross and it evokes the sacrifice that He suffered for us. The left hand, dressed in a habit, is the stigmatized hand of the Poor Man of Assisi who wanted to imitate the Saviour in everything. The cross present in the emblem symbolizes the way of assimilation to Christ: offering oneself out of love. The symbol willingly used by Francis himself is the Greek letter “TAU”. Its symbolism comes from the prophecy of Ezekiel, where the sign of that letter (Hebrew "tav") is to be marked on the foreheads of people mourning over the fate of Jerusalem (Ez 9,4). Apocalypse (Revelation 7: 1-8) recalls this symbolic action when the angels hold back disasters until they seal the servants of God as chosen for salvation. The number of the sealed (144,000) meant the universality of salvation. The symbolism of the letter was summoned by Pope Innocent III in the speech at the opening service of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), at which St. Francis was present. The Pope appealed to all Christians to mark their lives with this sign. This was to be the symbol of penance and renewed life in Christ. Francis was fascinated with the thought of the Pope and he sketched the sign on the walls of the cells, in his personal writings to be a reminder of the need for conversion. The letter "TAU" was in a way his seal as a servant of God, and also a sign of divine protection, the hope of being chosen and of salvation.

The habit

The garment of Poor Clares is a habit which bears a resemblance to the style of the garment at the beginning of the Order.
The habit of Poor Clares consists of:
  • a simple, long black tunic with wide sleeves, sewn in the form of a cross
  • a black scapular, used at the beginning as a protective covering for the tunic; today it has become a regular element of clothing
  • a long, reaching to the feet, black coat used especially during the liturgy and important ceremonies of the community
  • a veil falling over the shoulders: white for novices, black for professed
  • a white coif (covering the forehead, cheeks and neck), by means of which medieval women expressed modesty and devotion to their wedded one
  • a white cord tied around the waist on the tunic, which expresses the penitential style of life and the three knots symbolize the three vows which we profess: obedience, chastity and poverty
  • Franciscan Crown Rosary of seven decades attached to the cord helps in devotion to the seven joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary


In St. Clare’s Order we make a special commitment to the contemplative lifestyle in strict enclosure. It helps us in fostering the spiritual life. Candidates, postulants, novices and professed do not leave the monastery, except for a real necessity. Prayerful focus, humility, availability and joy about being together are concrete indications for human and Christian maturity of the Poor Clare. A vocation for such a lifestyle is verified by:
  • the time of entering the community – aspirate
  • one up to two years of postulate
  • one year of canonical novitiate
  • 3 to 9 years of temporary vows
  • after the perpetual profession, during the ongoing formation

Our work

Under the supervision of a qualified Sister we undertake the maintenance of liturgical fabrics: historic vestments and tippets. We also sew new things, according to the placed orders We make rosaries and decade rosaries both knotted ( in different colours) and made of beads. We recommend to the Lord those who pray the rosary made in our monastery. We paint icons. You can order an icon after you have previously agreed on its theme with the sister. We also make decorated candles and greeting cards. They can be purchased before Christmas, Easter and at other times. You can also purchase pictures with images of our saints and postcards. At the convent gate you can purchase cakes baked by us. Gingerbread cookies are made according to the old recipe, tried and tested for centuries. The fruit of our prayer and work is an album entitled “May you live like St. Clare”, released in 2012 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Clarian charism. It can be purchased at the convent gate. It can be done by mail order, telephone order or by email.


If you want us to pray with you, in your intentions, write to us:


If you want to support us financially:
Nr 58 1020 2892 0000 5902 0161 5863

Contact us

ul. Grodzka 54, 31-044 Kraków

tel. +48 12 422 16 12
kom. 601 727 287


Charism is the spiritual gift of God for the person who thanks to this grace can work with His Providence and love. Charism cannot be shown directly, but it can be described by the way it makes us sensitive to a specific understanding of the reality of faith.

The Experience of God
In the spiritual tradition left by St. Clare, the way of experiencing God is essential: there is always The Father, The Son and the Spirit of Lord – the Trinity of Persons.

The Person of Christ is especially important for the Poor Clare. The most important lesson we take from Him is the choice to humble yourself before the Father in order to show Him love and devotion.

Mary, angels and saints
Mary is for Francis, Clare and their companions the Mother of our Lord, His Mother. The charism of St. Clare also embraces in its richness the reverence for the angels and the memory of the saints.

Church and Liturgy
For Poor Clares being in the Church is a constant way of sanctification, accepting grace, to the glory of heaven (the prayer of St. Clare). The liturgy is the source of spiritual life and the reference for reflection.

Personal prayer and enclosure
Prayer is for the Poor Clares the main work of the day. The enclosure is crucial to focus on constant prayer and the conversation with God present in the Blessed Sacrament.

Mystic of poverty
This is the key to community and spiritual life, which was left for us by Saints of Assisi. No possession is as necessary for a man as having the state of grace accomplished in the communion of faith and sacramental communion.

Clare and Francis treat penance as a form of life, as vocation. Penance is the human response to the gift of salvific kindness, a gesture of grace.

Brotherhood and sisterhood bonds
Francis and Clare wanted to live the very example of Gospel where obedience and authority would be based on love and service.


The origin of order

The Order of Poor Clares was established in the thirteenth century. Its origin is connected with two Saints: Francis and Clare. Their conversion, life and testimony of faith was a sign of the times in the Church. What today constitutes the Order of Saint Clare of Assisi stems both from supernatural work of grace and specific human decisions.

More >>

Poor Clares in Poland

The presence of Poor Clares in Poland is inseparably connected with the presence of the Franciscan friars (today known as “Conventual Franciscans”). It was Provincial who gave his opinion and permission for the establishment of the convent and then provided it with the spiritual care. Often, it was also connected with the help in financial maintenance of sisters. Franciscans arrived in this region of Europe quite quickly taking into account the development of their Order: in 1225 they were brought to Prague, and their stay in Cracow was already confirmed in 1237. The community of Prague gave rise to two Polish monasteries: in 1245 in Zawichost and in 1257 in Wroclaw.

More >>

Poor Clares in Cracow

The founder of the Poor Clares in Krakow is Bl. Salome (1212-1268). She adopted the charism of St. Clare and began to implement it in the Polish community, culturally and religiously several hundred years younger than the Italian one, where the Franciscan movement was born. With her initiative, Salome showed the way to the Polish tradition of female religious life. In Polish culture, the idea of a woman sanctifying herself in the role of a wife and a mother remained for a long time. The religious life was practised mostly by men: Benedictines, hermits. Still, Poor Clares quickly gained favour with the princely families and at the courts. Among the sisters, the memory of their predecessors is kept for a long time. This creates history, enriches and enlivens gratitude. Here are a few biographies of the sisters of the convent of Krakow.

More >>

Sisters’ biographies

Wśród sióstr bardzo długo przechowywana jest pamięć o poprzedniczkach. To tworzy historię, ubogaca i ożywia wdzięczność. Oto kilka biografii sióstr z klasztoru krakowskiego.

More >>

The church of Saint Andrew the Apostle in Cracow

The church was built between 1079-1098 as a foundation of Starżów-Toporczyków. King Vladislaus the Short (1320-1333) and his wife Jadwiga gave the Poor Clares the opportunity to live at the church.

Read history >>

Description of architecture:
The church is Romanesque, built of local limestone cubes and blocks of reddish sandstone.

More >>

Mass and worship schedule:
Weekday mass: 7A.M. Monday through Saturday
Sunday Masses and the Church holidays: 7 A.M. and 10 A.M.

More >>