Il monachesimo femminile in Italia dall'alto medioevo al secolo XVII a confronto con l'oggi. Atti del VI Convegno del "Centro di Studi Farfensi," Santa Vittoria in Matenano, 21-24 settembre 1995ed. by Gabriella Zarri (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 85, Number 1, January 1999
- pp. 58-59
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- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS General and Miscellaneous Il monachesimofemminile in Italia dall'alto medioevo al secólo XVII a confronto con l'oggi. AM del VI Convegno del "Centro di Studi Farfensi," Santa Vittoria in Matenano, 21-24 setiembre 1995. Edited by Gabriella Zarri. [Scuola di Memoria Storica, 6.] (Località Negarine di San Pietro in Cariano, Verona: Il Segno dei Gabrielli editori. 1997. Pp. xx, 455. Lire 50,000 paperback.) This study of the history of women's monasticism in Italy is composed of introductions by Gabriella Zarri and Giulia Barone and eighteen articles, all but three of which are by women. The preponderance of women authors is a strength of this collection. The value of a woman's perspective may be illustrated by Francesca Medioli's history of the Vatican's regulation of the cloister for nuns,where it becomes clear that the post-Tridentine strictness of the cloister was primarily the decision of a small group of reforming cardinals. The reader gets the sense from Medioli's careful presentation that had an abbess or two, with their lived experiences, been present at the deliberations, the decisions of the council probably would have been very different. There is a rich variety of interpretations in the collection. Some of the authors argue that women's religious experience, which is less well-documented than the history of monks, was distinct from men's experience. Other articles put the history of women religious as part of larger spiritual movements. Almost all of the articles are the result of an in-depth archival research. Some of the studies are of a single house or movement,for example, Lucia Sebastiani,"Da bizzocche a monache," whose observations upon the daily coutumier of Santa Marta in Pavia at the beginning of the fifteenth century are fascinating; and others are good surveys, especially Maria Teresa Guerra Medici,"Sulla giurisdizione temporale e spirituale della abbadessa." The wide focus of the book, to look at the totality of more than fifteen hundred years of religious experience, is ambitious. That it succeeds at all is to its credit. But it does more than succeed. The careful scholarship and deep interest in their subjects which characterize the authors' work move the reader beyond any easy generalizations about the history ofwomen's monasticism in Italy. As a synecdoche for the collection of essays, I would offer Marcella Campanelli's 58 BOOK REVIEWS59 statement of purpose in "Monache in provincia. Le canonichesse lateranensi di Arienzo": Ho cercato, nel mio viaggio a ritroso nel tempo, di mettere in luce cosa abbia significato . . . scegliere la via del chiostro, Ie motivazioni che erano alla base di tale scelta, le stratégie familiari, i ritmi e i modi di vita all'interno del convento, gli interessi culturali che in esso si coltivavano, cercando di delineare il modello di religiosa che veniva formandosi. (p. 372) A notable advantage of this book to the English-speaking student is that it is built upon previous Italian scholarship not otherwise available. One will note especially, in this regard, the influence of Gregorio Penco. Annamaria Facchiano , "Monachesimo femminile nel Mezzogiorno médiévale e moderno," illustrates and, perhaps, overstates weaknesses ofpast foreign scholars, such asJohn Moorman, in understanding the sources. On the other hand, some ofthe studies suffer from lack of familiarity with foreign scholarship. So, for example, Facchiano's consideration of women religious in Southern Italy, an area which is well represented in the collection, suffers from the omission of Evelyn Jamison 's study (Oxford, 1934) ofAbbess Bethlem of Benevento. On the whole, the book is a valuable addition to the study ofItalian monasticism . A special note ought to be made about the fine material qualities of the publication, which includes seven color plates and a color reproduction of a truly beautiful Piero della Francesca fresco (detail). Charles Hilken SaintMary's College ofCalifornia, Moraga Il tempo di Bernardino da Portogruaro. By Giuseppe Buffon. [Francescani in Europa.] (Assisi: Edizioni Porziuncola. 1997. Pp. xxv, 889. Lire 55,000 paperback .) On October 4, 1897, Pope Leo XIII formalized a major institutional reform of the Order of Friars Minor. It was known as the Leonine Union. Four branches of the Order (Observants, Reform, Discalced, and Recollects), each...