A Comparison

Joshua Chen:




Francis had written two Rules. One in 1221, called the Earlier Rule, was without a papal seal. The other one was approved by the Pope in 1223, which was called the Later Rule. The Earlier Rule did not meet the expectation of the friars especially the ministers and the more learned brothers. Most of it was not presented in sufficiently legal terminology and its regulations were not sufficiently precise. The friars asked Francis to rewrite the Rule.

Francis brought two companions with him and started to rewrite the Rule. After he finished he presented it to the chapter on June 11, 1223, and the chapter made minor change in it. Pope honourius approved the Rule on November 29, 1223.

The Later Rule is not the work of Francis alone. The language is refined. The juridical portions are clear and correspond with the current canon law. From other materials we know that Cardinal Hugolino also helped him with the Rule. However Francis used the first person singular so that it was he who dictated the Rule.



Innocent IV approved St Clare's Rule on August 9, 1253. The original Rule is in Latin.

In 1212, Francis received Clare and she lived under his direction and personal inspiration for a few years. Francis gave the Poor Sisters a short formula as a way of life. Starting from 1247, Clare wrote her own Rule.

Clare is the first woman to write a Rule for religious. She did not call the document a Rule but a Form of Life.



There are twelve chapters in the Rule. A curial official may have imposed the number to signify its apostolic foundations.

The Rule is a collection of admonitions and precepts that is necessary for the brothers’ life. It is a spiritual document that attempts to safeguard the brother’s life. Francis spoke to his brothers in a personal way by using “most beloved”, and “most dear”. He writes not a jurist but as spiritual father who wants to infuse a certain spirit into their life.

But the Rule is also a juridical document that contains juridical prescriptions.

 Chapter 1 is a synthesis of Franciscan life. Chapters 2 to11 are a series of prescriptions and admonitions regarding the organization of the brotherhood. Those who come should give up possessions, and go about the world. The brothers are to live in the spirit of the gospel and reject the security represented by money, with disinterested love, and in Christian brotherhood to overcome the spirit of the flesh. Chapter 12 is a summary of the brothers’ life.



From 1247, Clare started to write her own Rule modelled on the friars’ Later Rule. Much of the text was taken over bodily. The written and oral instructions of Francis provided the essentials, namely, the gospel foundation, that candidates give their goods to the poor, the manner of working, the life of mendicancy, absolute poverty, love and compassion for the erring, and spiritual direction from the Friars Minor.

The division of Clare’s Rule into twelve chapters occurred much later and probably in order to make it more like the Rule of the friars.




Both Francis and Clare promised obedience to the Pope and the Church.

At the beginning of Later Rule, Francis said “The Rule and Life of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own, and in chastity.

Clare’s Rule starts with “The form of life of the Order of the Poor Sisters is this: to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own, and in chastity.” But Clare added to obey Francis and his successors as well: “together with her sisters, she promises obedience to the blessed Francis”

 Francis in his first sentence “the Rule and Life of the Lesser Brothers …” indicated that, in Christ and for Christ, in an inseparable and humble union of brotherly love, the brothers desire to be united and conformed to Christ the head.

 Clare used “sister” instead of “nun” to express her idea of minority and fraternity.



In this chapter two saints gave a provision of how to receive new members.

 The friars kept an itinerant life style. They received candidates individually at first and then through the provincials.

 Clare prudently requires consultation of all the Sisters of the community and the permission of the Cardinal Protector. It expresses great confidence in the Sisters’ ability to share the responsibility for major decisions. The Abbess is required to seek the consent of all the Sisters, and if the majority shall have agreed she can receive the candidates.

Clare directs the Novice Mistress to form the novices in a holy way of life, in fidelity to the monastic life, cultivating stability. “She (the mistress) shall form them diligently in a holy manner of living and proper behaviour according to the form of our profession.

 They both asked that the provincial or abbess carefully examine the candidates concerning the Catholic faith and the sacraments of the Church if they want to join. “if they believe all these things and are willing to profess them faithfully and to observe them steadfastly to the end.”

Francis and Clare simply asked that the tenor of their life be taught, which indicates that they were aware that each new brother or sister was a gift of God.



Francis allowed the candidate to have two tunics “they may be given the clothes of probation, namely, two tunics without a hood, a cord, short trousers, and a little cape reaching to the cord”. However Francis admonished and exhorted the brothers not to look down upon or judge those who dressed in soft and fine clothes.

 Clare allowed candidates to have three tunics and a mantle but not the veil during the period of probation. In addition, she admonished her sisters always to wear the poorest of garments: “to be allowed three tunics and a mantle. During the period of probation no one is to receive the veil. I admonish, entreat, and exhort my sisters that they always wear the poorest of garments.

They both accepted married people who wanted to join their life if there was no obstacle.



In chapter three Francis asked the clerical brothers to recite the Divine Office according to the rite of the holy Roman Church. The lay brothers might say Our Fathers.

He commanded the cult of divine service by works of penance with a close connection to divine worship, namely by devout and reasonable fasting, especially in those times when solemn celebrations were held in memory of the incarnation, birth, lent, passion and resurrection of Christ. He asked the brothers to pray for the dead.

The friars were to be meek, peaceful, modest, gentle, and humble, speaking courteously to everyone when preaching Gospel.

 Clare specified the recitation of the Divine Office according to the custom of the Friars Minor. Those who did not know how to read should say Our Fathers. She asked them to “read it without singing”. She also gave a provision of “confession at least twelve times a year”. She added, “The sisters are to fast at all times.

 Both Francis and Clare implemented the program of the Fourth Lateran Council for the renewal of liturgical life. The aim was to overcome the negative effects of a deficient theology that was keeping the faithful from reception of the Eucharist due to an exaggerated sense of sin. “They should receive Communion seven times.”



In this chapter, Chapter Four, and the following two chapters, Five and Six, Francis laid down the way and form of a heavenly life, conformed to the cross. He strictly commanded all the brothers not to receive money. “I strictly command all my brothers not to receive coins or money in any form, either personally or through intermediaries.” He strongly commanded his brothers to reject the security represented by money.

 This chapter and the following two are also the heart of the Form of Life of  the Poor Sisters, not having possessions, and living in poverty to follow Jesus Christ. This provided the principal font for this new form of life in the Church.

“We might never turn aside from the most holy poverty we had embraced”. The Abbess is “not to receive or hold onto any possessions or property through an intermediary, or even anything that might reasonably be called property, except as much land as necessity requires for the integrity and the proper seclusion of the monastery; and this land is not to be cultivated except as a garden for the needs of the sisters.”

Clare secured her Form of Life by reproducing literally the Last Will of Francis for the Poor Ladies. “to live always in this most holy life and in poverty. And keep most careful watch that you never depart from this by reason of the teaching or advice of anyone.”



Francis asked that “those brothers to whom the Lord has given the grace of working, may work faithfully and devotedly,”

But he commanded them not to receive money and clearly prevented them from obtaining whatever exceeded the measure of necessity: “they may receive whatever is necessary for the bodily support of themselves and their brothers, excepting coin or money,”

 Like Francis, Clare described work as a normal means of subsistence and a concrete way of practising poverty and inculcating a spirit of minority. She used the same words about work: “The sisters to whom the Lord has given the grace of working are to work faithfully and devotedly”.

She indicated the chapter as the place for assignments and distribution of goods, to prevent favouritism: “the Abbess or her vicaress is bound to assign at the Chapter, in the presence of all, the manual work each is to perform.”

Finally, she asked the sisters to pray for the donors.



Francis was concerned about the evangelical life so that he asked the brothers to have nothing of their own, neither personally nor in common. He wrote: “As pilgrims and strangers in this world, serving the Lord in poverty and humility, let them go seeking alms with confidence”. He wanted the brothers to possess nothing in accord with the example of Christ and to be freed through complete dispossession.

He also asked them to care for the sick brothers as a mother cares for her son: “ if any brother falls sick, the other brothers must serve him as they would wish to be served themselves”.

 Clare used exactly same words as Francis did: “The sisters shall not acquire anything as their own, neither a house nor a place nor anything at all; instead, as pilgrims and strangers in this world who serve the Lord in poverty and humility, let them send confidently for alms”. 

 The medieval pilgrimage was a major expression of a life a penance. Thus Clare asked her sisters to renounce financial security as pilgrims and strangers in this world. Clare added the image of Mary whose lowliness was exalted: “do not wish to have anything else forever under heaven for the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His most holy Mother.She wanted her sisters to accept the poor life for the sake of the Poor Christ and His Mother rather than for ascetical motives.

She did not allow the sister to receive or give anything without permission.

Clare assimilated the instructions of Francis's care of the sick.



Due to our weakness and great necessity, this chapter on sacramental penance is as the medicine and discipline of those who sin mortally. The brothers who sin are ordered to have recourse only to the ministers. Francis also gave the minister the manner and form for absolving sins. This should be done discreetly, usefully, mercifully and with tranquillity. “They (the ministers) must be careful not to be angry or disturbed at the sin of another, for anger and disturbance impede charity in themselves and in others.”

 Clare followed Francis's consideration of physical illness with one on spiritual maladies. The basis is the Gospel mandate of fraternal correction.

She had the sisters who sinned mortally against the form of their life many times “to eat bread and water on the floor before all the sisters in the refectory for as many days as she shall have been obstinate.” It seems excessive but it was moderate in contrast to the current  monastic practices at that time which called for scourging or imprisonment.

Clare did not allow the sisters to be godmothers lest gossip or trouble arise because of this. Francis did not allow the brothers to be godfathers, in Chapter 11. Clare asked that a penance be mercifully imposed on the sister who sinned. “They must be careful not to be angry or disturbed at the sin of another, for anger and disturbance impede charity in themselves and in others.”  This is the same as in the Rule of Francis.



Here is useful information about the election of the general minister, the government in general and a suitable way of electing the general minister.

The General Minister must conform himself to Christ the Good Shepherd in everything and for all things. The brothers are strictly bound to obey the ministers.

If the minister is not qualified for the service and general welfare of the brothers, the brothers should elect another one.

 In Chapter Four Clare combined legal precision with insistence on a spirit of mutual responsibility of all the members.

Clare indicated a pastoral, not a juridical, role for the Minister during the chapter of elections. When an abbess “is not competent for their service and common welfare, the sisters are bound to elect another as Abbess”.

She gave a prescription for a model abbess “She should console those who are afflicted, and be, likewise, the last refuge for those who are disturbed; for, if they fail to find in her the means of health, the sickness of despair might overcome the weak.”

In this chapter she said “At least once a week the Abbess is required to call her sisters together in the Chapter. There both she and her sisters must confess their common and public offences and negligences humbly.” This form of chapter does not appear in Francis’s Rule.



Francis showed that the authority of the Church is to be held in highest veneration and reverence. The brothers may not preach in the diocese of any bishop, when he has opposed their doing so.”

“When they preach, their language is to be well-considered and chaste, for the benefit and edification of the people, announcing to them vices and virtues, punishment and glory, with brevity, because our Lord when on earth kept his word brief.” In these words we can see the works of faith, truth, hope, grace and the good will of charity, all causes of damnation and salvation, of punishments and reward.

 Clare wrote: “The sisters are to keep silence” Nevertheless they may communicate whatever is necessary always and everywhere, briefly and in a low tone of voice.

There are provisions for the grille and the parlour.

“The sisters may not speak in the parlour or at the grille without the permission of the Abbess or her Vicaress.” Clare maintained the prescriptions of canonical discipline found in the Form of Life of Hugolino, and went beyond them.



The visitation, correction and government of the brothers.

“Let the ministers admonish their brothers, and humbly and charitably correct the brothers, not commanding them anything that is against their soul and our Rule. Let the brothers, who are subject, remember that, for God’s sake, they have renounced their own wills.

Francis admonished the brothers to desire the Spirit of the Lord: “let them pay attention to what they must desire above all else: to have the Spirit of the Lord and its holy activity, to pray always to Him with a pure heart, to have humility and patience in persecution and infirmity, and to love those who persecute, rebuke and find fault with us”.

 Clare followed the general structure of Francis’ Later Rule. She changed it slightly to fit a stable and monastic community. She did not change the core concept of living in obedience and of authority exercised as a service. “The Abbess should admonish and visit her sisters, and humbly and charitably correct them, not commanding them anything which would be against their soul and the form of our profession. The sisters, however, who are subjects, should remember that for God’s sake they have renounced their own wills.”

 They both said “I admonish and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ that the sisters be on their guard against all pride, vainglory, envy, greed, worldly care and anxiety, detraction and murmuring, (dissension and division). Let those who do not know how to read should not be eager to learn.” Clare added “dissension and divisionafter “detraction and murmuring,” Thus she re-emphasized a fundamental value of the Rule and life of the Poor Sisters: “the unity of mutual love.”

 Clare followed the structural form of Francis's text:

“Let them pay attention to what they must desire above all else: to have the Spirit of the Lord and its holy activity, to pray always to Him with a pure heart, to have humility and patience in persecution and infirmity, and to love those who persecute, rebuke and find fault with us, because the Lord says: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you. 11Blessed are those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 12But whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.”

"Let them devote themselves to what they must desire to have above all else: the Spirit of the Lord and His holy manner of working, to pray always to Him with a pure heart, and to have humility, patience in difficulty and weakness, and to love those who persecute, blame, and accuse us; for the Lord says: Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:10). But he who shall have persevered to the end will be saved.”



Francis forbade his brothers to enter monasteries especially those of the Poor Ladies, lest under the pretext of divine love, a secret carnal love would come from a subtle working of demons. “I strictly command all the brothers not have any suspicious dealings or conversations with women, and they may not enter the monasteries of nuns.”

He also forbade them to be godfathers in relation to baptism and confirmation: “they may not be godfathers to men or women”. Clare forbade it at Chapter Seven.

 She made strict legislation for the enclosure. “The sisters shall not allow anyone to enter the monastery before sunrise or to remain within after sunset, unless an evident, reasonable, and unavoidable cause demands.” But she also allowed some exceptions, which made for gospel flexibility. “The portress is to be mature in her manners and prudent.” “During the day the door should be firmly locked with one key.” “All the sisters should be extremely careful not to be seen by those who enter.”



The brothers who wish by divine inspiration to go among the Saracens or other non-believers ask permission to go from their provincial ministers.

The provincial should ask from the Lord Pope for one of the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, who would be the governor, protector and corrector of our fraternity, so that, being always submissive and subject at the feet of the Church and steadfast in the Catholic Faith…. Francis forbids anyone to tamper with this decree, or rashly dare to oppose it.

“So that, being always submissive and subject at the feet of the same Holy Church and steadfast in the Catholic Faith, we may observe poverty, humility, and the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as we have firmly promised.”

Clare used the same words.

“So that, always submissive and subject at the feet of that holy Church, and steadfast in the Catholic faith, we may observe forever the poverty and humility of our Lord Jesus Christ and of His most holy Mother and the holy Gospel which we have firmly promised.”

The Visitator is to come from the Order of Friars Minor.

Clare also asked for a cardinal to be Protector of the Poor Sisters.


Colin Teo:


The Confirmed Rule of St Francis

(Later Rule)

The Form of Life (Rule) of St Clare of Assisi


November 29, 1223

August 9, 1253


Early beginnings with a statement presented to Innocent III in 1209/10 that later resulted after years of development in the Earlier Rule. Final redaction resulted in the Later Rule, with the Bull of honourius III.

Previously had a rule by Cardinal Hugolino and Innocent IV based on Benedictine and other canonical legislation of 12th and early 13th centuries. Later Pope Innocent IV on the document Solet annuere confirms the rule base on her vision.


to the rule

Short introduction by Pope honourius with message of approval

Almost similar introduction with approval but includes the background of the rule that credits Francis as source of the rule.


An overall content has added warmth with encouragement from the Pope.

Chapter 1

The rule begins by stating the purpose and conditions of the Franciscan life (Lesser Brothers).

Similarly to the LR with a clear assertion stating Francis as one that establishes their form of life.


The Poor Sisters are to promise obedience to Francis and Clare and their successors.

Chapter 2

On new admittance of new brothers, the provincial minister is the only one that will grant that permission.



In contrast to the LR, the Abbess is bound to seek the consent of all sisters and if the majority has agreed, she may received her after having obtained the permission of the Lord Cardinal Protector.


Furthermore, there must be no impediment to the observance of the life of a Poor Clare, e.g. advanced age or ill health or mental weakness.


This chapter went on to the details of external procedure to be taken for a new sister from the cutting of hair to their manner of clothing. One interesting difference to the LR is the permission to have THREE tunics compared to two in the LR.


As they are cloistered, only for a useful reasonable purpose are the Clares allowed to go outside the monastery.


Young girls may join the order but will not make their profession until they reach the age required by law.


Sisters serving outside the monastery are allowed to wear shoes.

Chapter 3

On the Divine Office, fasting and how the brothers should go about in the world.


Clerical brothers recite the Divine Office according to the rite of the Roman Church. The lay brothers will recite the Our Fathers. All should pray for the dead.










Fasting begins from the feast of All Saints until the Lord’s Nativity.



This section goes on to talk about how the Friars should conduct themselves when they go about the world.

The divine office and fasting, Confession and communion.


Sisters who can read, celebrate the Divine Office according to the customs of the Friars Minor. Those who cannot read will recite the Our Fathers.


On Prayer for the dead, in addition to the Our Fathers, is the Requiem aeternam at Vespers; twelve for matins. Those who can read should recite the Office of the Dead.

When a sister of the dies, however, they shall say fifty Our Fathers.


The sisters shall fast at all times. They may eat twice on Christmas, however, no matter on what day it happens to fall.


This section, with no connection to LR, talks about the proper reception of the sacraments of reconciliation and communion.





Chapter 10

Ministers are to visit and admonish their brothers and humbly and charitably correct them.


Francis further advises those who cannot observe the rule to have recourse to the ministers.


He further admonishes the brothers to beware of pride, vainglory, envy, and greed, of care and solicitude for the things of this world.


He encourages the brothers to have a spirit of prayer and to love one’s enemies.

Likewise and in the same spirit to the LR, the Abbess has the same responsibility as the minister who should visit her sisters.


The part on the Friar visitator is strangely found in Ch 12 :


On the Visitator, the Chaplain and Cardinal Protector.


The sisters since they are cloistered do not have a missionary tract .


At the beginning of the chapter, the request of a Friar Visitator is spelt out clearly. His role is to correct excess against the form of their profession and other matters pertaining to the visitation.


In addition, Clare requests a Friar Minor Chaplain, accompanied with a companion, to administer the sacraments to the sisters.


The sisters also have a Cardinal as protector and corrector of the fraternity.



The similarities in the contents of the chapters of the LR are either found in another chapter of Clare’s rule or not found at all and vice versa.


Chapter 4

The brothers are not to received money


No similar references in Clare’s rule.

Chapter 5

The manner of working.


Work should be done to avoid idleness keeping in mind the spirit of prayer.


In payment for their work, the friars can received what is necessary for the bodily support of themselves and their brothers, but not money.

Found in Chapter 7.


Although similar to the ideals of Chapter 5, Work begins only after the Hour of Terce.


The Abbess or her Vicaress is bound to assign the work that each should perform with her hands.


They are also responsible for distributing alms "In common" received by benefactors for their needs with the advice of the discreets.

Chapter 6

On not acquiring anything as their own; begging alms; the sick brothers.


Friars are not allowed property and should go about begging. The needs of each brother should be made known to one another in the spirit of "mother and child" especially when one is sick.

Found in Chapter 8


This chapter shares the same spirit of LR’s chapter 6. Except that as they are cloistered, the term "Sending for alms" as compared to the itinerant Friars "begging" for alms" seems ambiguous.


Clare further elaborates much more the permission by the Abbess on the "sending and receiving of letters" by the sisters. The same applies to receiving goods or money (with advice of discreets) in the spirit of sharing.


Sick sisters are allowed to sleep on a more comfortable "bed" made with straw and they may use feather pillows for their head. This even extends to woollen stockings and quilts if needed.

Chapter 7

On penances imposed on brothers who sin.


When one has sinned mortally in regard to those sins that have been decreed, he must have recourse only to the provincial as quickly as possible. If the minister is a priest, he must impose a penance, if he is not, another priest will impose it

Found on Chapter 9


As usual the Poor sisters share a similar idea but elaboration on the method of punishment is clearly spelt out. The Abbess and the sister will first admonish the penitent two or three times. If she does not amend she has to eat bread and water on the floor before all the sisters in the refectory for as many days as she shall have been obstinate.


An addition to this chapter is reconciliation between sisters. The person who causes the trouble will have to prostrate before the offended and ask for her intercession to the Lord for forgiveness.


The Abbess (with advice of discreet) subjects the sisters serving outside the monastery to the penances. Proper conduct is required especially being wary of "suspicious meetings". No gossiping of events that can cause scandal outside the monastery.

Chapter 8

The election of the Minister General and the chapter of Pentecost.


Provincial ministers and custodians in the Chapter of Pentecost once every three years elect a minister.

Found on Chapter 4


The sisters elect the Abbess (Professed sister only). This is done with the pastoral presence of the Minister General or the Minister Provincial of the Order of Friars Minor.


Clare further elaborates the role of the Abbess to treat every sister equally (no favourites) to console those who are afflicted and to be the last refuge of someone who is troubled.


She is bound to call a weekly chapter for public confession of faults and negligence and also to discuss concerns that affect the monastery.


Unless there is a need, no heavy debt should be incurred. No safekeeping of deposited things, to avoid scandals and troubles.


Lastly, eight elected sisters are to assist the Abbess in important matters.

Chapter 9

On Preachers

As the Poor Sisters are cloistered there is no reference to preaching.

Chapter 11

Brothers may not enter the monasteries of nuns or have suspicious dealings or conversations with women.

Although there is no special chapter for the sisters regarding visiting the brothers, sisters serving outside the monastery in chapter 9 do receive similar advice.

Chapter 12

Ends with mission to the Saracens and a request to the minister to petition a Cardinal as protector and corrector of the fraternity.

No similar reference.


No reference in the LR

Chapter 5 talks about silence, the parlour and the Grille