One of the first followers of St. Francis was a young woman, Chiara (Clare, in English), daughter of a count and countess who was so swept away by the teachings of the young zealot that she allowed him to cut her hair and dress her in sackcloth. She founded the order of the Poor Dames (now known as Poor Clares), whose members continue to renounce material processions, and she lies in this vast, stark church on full view, with her face covered in wax. The Oratorio del Crocifisso preserves the venerated 12th-century crucifix from which the figure of Christ allegedly spoke to St. Francis and asked him to rebuild his church (the reference was to the organization, which had by then become mired in politics, corruption, and warfare). As Clare lay ill on Christmas Eve 1252, she allegedly voiced regrets that she would not be able to attend services in the then-new Basilica di San Francisco. Suddenly, in a vision, she saw and heard the mass clear as a bell and in Technicolor, a miracle for which she was named the patron saint of television in 1958.
- Frommer's Staff