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Women and Religion in Medieval and Renaissance Italy

Between the twelfth and the sixteenth centuries, women assumed public roles of unprecedented prominence in Italian religious culture. Legally subordinated, politically excluded, socially limited, and ideologically disdained, women’s active participation in religious life offered them access to power in all its forms.

These essays explore the involvement of women in religious life throughout northern and central Italy and trace the evolution of communities of pious women as they tried to achieve their devotional goals despite the strictures of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The contributors examine relations between holy women, their devout followers, and society at large.

Including contributions from leading figures in a new generation of Italian historians of religion, this book shows how women were able to carve out broad areas of influence by carefully exploiting the institutional church and by astutely manipulating religious percepts.

344 pages | 11 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1996

Women in Culture and Society

Medieval Studies

Religion: Christianity

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

Foreword by Catharine R. Stimpson
1: Women and Religion in Late Medieval Italy: History and Historiography
Daniel Bornstein
2: A Community of Female Penitents in Thirteenth-Century Padua
Antonio Rigon
3: Clare, Agnes, and Their Earliest Followers: From the Poor Ladies of San Damiano to the Poor Clares
Clara Gennaro
4: Anchoresses and Penitents in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century Umbria
Mario Sensi
5: Mendicant Friars and Female Pinzochere in Tuscany: From Social Marginality to Models of Sanctity
Anna Benvenuti Papi
6: The Apostolic Canonization Proceedings of Clare of Montefalco, 1318-1319
Enrico Menesto
7: Female, Mystics, Visions, and Iconography
Chiara Frugoni
8: Imitable Sanctity: The Legend of Maria of Venice
Fernanda Sorelli
9: St. Bernardino of Siena, the Wife, and Possessions
Roberto Rusconi
10: St. Francesca and the Female Religious Communities of Fifteenth-Century Rome
Anna Esposito
11: Living Saints: A Typology of Female Sanctity in the Early Sixteenth Century
Gabriella Zarri
Afterword: Women Religious in Late Medieval Italy: New Sources and Directions
Roberto Rusconi

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