Mother Clare Knight
Frances Knight was 21 when the Benedictine community arrived at Cannington in 1807. Her father was the manager of the property of Lord Clifford, who provided Court House, Cannington, for the nuns. Educated in a convent, she already felt drawn to become a nun. Her mother was upset. A priest friend gave a frank assessment of the poverty, age and ill health of this community. But in a matter of months, she left a note for her mother, and slipped down the road to join the nuns, as Sister Mary Clare.
A year later, her elder sister joined her. Then no one else came for 10 years. Prioresses died or fell sick. In 1818, when she was only 32, Mother Mary Clare was elected to lead the community. There were 6 choir nuns and 3 lay sisters. Apart from herself, her sister and one lay sister, all were old or ill.
Soon two more of her own sisters joined, and also Lord Clifford's daughter, then many more fervent young women. In 1824 the community fulfilled a long held desire and began Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Night and day, the nuns took it in turn to pray in church.
The image above, taken from an oil painting by 'a Miss Baker, a lady painter', shows Mother Mary Clare in old age, wearing the Blessed Sacrament medal and reading the chapter of St. Benedict's Rule on Reverence in Prayer.
She was Prioress for 42 years, re-elected every 4 years until her death. She moved the community to the present house at Colwich, and founded a daughter house at Atherstone in Warwickshire. In 1859, there were over 50 in the community, not counting novices and postulants. Mother Clare Knight died in 1860.