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Poor Clares of York celebrate 150th anniversary

St. Clare of Assisi is depicted in a modern painting by Stephen B Whatley, an expressionist artist based in London. She founded the Poor Clares -- a contemplative order of nuns with 20,000 sisters around the globe. (CNS/Stephen B Whatley)

The Poor Clares are celebrating 150 years since their founding sisters from Bruges established the order in York.

Beginning their celebrations last Tuesday with a Mass on the feast of St Clare, the contemplative order opened up their house to priests and other religious sisters where they had laid our artefacts passed down from the founders.

“We’re so thankful for this new chapter. We see it as a new beginning,” said Sr Mary Paul, one of five Poor Clares in York, adding that the current community has many similarities to the one that first established the order in the city.

She continued: “We feel much like the nuns who came to York 150 years ago. We’re a small community now and our beautiful new house is surrounded by fields as the convent would have been.”

Two years ago, the community was forced to sell their convent, after it became unmanageable for the dwindling number of nuns who lived there. The community grew to its peak of 40 nuns in the 1940s but has slowly been declining since.

The Poor Clares of York are planning more celebrations as the year progresses.