A group of radical franciscan spirituals, cofounded by the Franciscans Peter of Macerata and Peter of Fossombrone when the former obtained from Pope celestine v in authorization (1294) for his group to separate from the Franciscan Order and become hermits, or celestines, directly under the Rule of St. Francis. Macerata was thereafter called Liberato; his associate, ange lus clarenus. When boniface viii annulled Celestine's concession on April 8, 1295, this group of Celestines or more properly, Clareni, moved to Achaia for two years and then to southern Thessaly and finally had to return to Italy c. 1304. Upon the death of Liberato (1307), Angelus succeeded as head of the group, which was at first settled along the banks of the Chiarino River. When the bull Sancta Romana of john xxii (Dec. 30, 1317) refused autonomy to any of the groups that it called fraticelli (including the Clareni)—in an attempt to preserve the unity of the franciscans—the Clareni reluctantly joined the main group of (Benedictine) Celestines and moved to the Subiaco area. In 1334, alarmed by the Roman inquisition investigating the extremism of the Clareni, Angelus moved to Basilicata, Italy, where he died (1337). But the Clareni, then located in several places throughout Italy, refused to disband, even in the face of inquisitorial proceedings, the death of Angelus, and the confirmation of their suppression (1341). Their life continued to be difficult; e.g., at the end of the 14th century Florence framed laws to expel them from the city.
At a time difficult to pinpoint, there appeared the Societas pauperum hermitarum quondam fr. Angeli de Clarino, an orthodox Congregation of Clareni under episcopal jurisdiction. This group obtained a bull from Boniface IX (1389–1404), confirming its orthodoxy, and thus ending its persecution. The Clareni of St. Maria de Valle Ceraso, near Treia, were recognized as orthodox in 1437 and 1439; a bull of Eugene IV did the same for those of Narni (1446); and a year later a bull of Nicholas V cleared the name of the Clareni in nine dioceses of central Italy. In 1473 Sixtus IV subordinated them to the Franciscan minister general, and in 1475 they were exempted from episcopal jurisdiction. In September 1483 their chapter adopted the Franciscan rule, but the Clareni remained a separate Franciscan family under their own vicar. Their Roman residence was San Geronimo (1473–1524), then San Bartolomeo on the Island. United to the Franciscan Observants in 1512, they formed a separate province of San Geronimo (1518–36) and of San Bartolomeo (1536–68), when the rites and statutes of the Clareni were abolished, and the group finally merged with the Observants.
Bibliography: g. l. potesta, Angelo Clareno: Dai poveri eremiti ai fraticelli (Rome 1990). d. l. douie, The Nature and the Effect of the Heresy of the Fraticelli (Manchester, Eng. 1932).