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Example:
In the olden days in Europe, people used to hide out in churches; They would claim sanctuary. ©

I know what are possible translations for the word claim and the translation of sanctuary. Which is the best synonym for the claim in this context? Please explain it to me.
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Comments  
Implore/Pray for sanctuary

Demand, ask and request are probably too strong, as the people asking for sanctuary didn't have any power or authority

Ask is less strong however than demand or request and quite neutral in terms of power connotations.

Yes, ask is easier for learners.
I think that request is closer. Ask for a sanctuary sounds more clearer for foreign learners, isn't it?
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I've changed my mind. See in the above.
There was a law that sanctuary was granted in churches - so it was 'claimed' and not merely asked for. It was a legal right.

Sanctuary = protection from the law: you couldn't be arrested while you stayed in the church and claimed sanctuary.
Yes, implore/pray are better. Claim seems too odd for me as for a foreign learner.
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See:

Medieval right of asylum
in:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_asylum
So, what is the best synonym then? Is it take? People used to come to church to use (take) their right to stay safe there.

Interesting link by the way. Thanks!
Seek sanctuary/asylum
is very good IMO
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