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the beloved of the Italian poet Petrarch and the subject of his love lyrics, written over a period of about 20 years, most of which were included in his Canzoniere, or Rime. Laura has traditionally been identified as Laura de Noves of Avignon (now in France), a married woman and a mother; but since Petrarch gives no clues as to who she was, several other Lauras have also been suggested, and some critics believe there was no actual Laura at all. Petrarch was supposed to have seen Laura for the first time in St. Claire Church in Avignon on April 6, 1327. In his poetry she appears to give him little encouragement, but his love for her became a lifelong obsession, even after her death on April 6, 1348.