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  • L'umiltà e le rose. Storia di una compagnia femminile a Torino tra età moderna e contemporanea ed. by Anna Cantaluppi and Blythe Alice Raviola
  • Maria Teresa Fattori
L'umiltà e le rose. Storia di una compagnia femminile a Torino tra età moderna e contemporanea. Edited by Anna Cantaluppi and Blythe Alice Raviola. (Florence: Casa Editrice Leo S. Olschki. 2017. Pp. xxii, 401. €49,00 paperback. ISBN 978-8822-265043.)

A rich and carefully made volume, L'umiltà e le rose is dedicated to the Compagnia femminile dell'Umiltà of Turin, founded around the 1570s, active till 1934. The miscellany collects twelve essays organized in four parts. The research on that important female organisation of charity has been made possible thanks to the Fondazione 1563 (Fondazione dell'Istituto bancario San Paolo di Torino per la cultura, la scienza e l'arte), and thanks to the work of N. Calapà, for the construction of the data base that records the 1,700 women active in the Company from 1590 to 1901. These research papers put value on the rich archival sources of the Umiliate, found in the Archivio di stato and in the Archivio Arcivescovile of Turin. The volume starts with the list of abbreviations and a short introduction written by the editors, and it is concluded by a final appendix with edition of two documents (Relazione di un anonimo gesuita […] on the procession held in Turin in 1621 and Avisi per il padre for the spiritual direction of the Umiliate, written in 1667); together with the XLVIII tables of images connected with Saint Elizabeth and the Umiliate; the English abstract of the twelve essays; a brief presentation of the eighteen authors, the list of images outside the text; the index of illustrations in the text; the index of the names. This book is the result of the most recent research on the Company and also the first step for future deeper works.

In the introduction, the editors explain the concrete occasion and main aims of the book, and its place within the historiographical debate on female confraternities in modern ages. The first part, with the contribution of A. Cantaluppi e B. A. Raviola together with P. Gentile, puts lights on the relationship between the female Company and the male Compagnia San Paolo and its ties with the Court of Savoy. The Umiliate was the female counterpart of the Compagnia di San Paolo, with a more aristocratic profile, but also a smaller financial importance. Both Companies received and gave support to the Jesuits in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. At the very first beginning, the Umiliate had connection with heterodox circles, but from the end of the sixteenth century, the associations turned toward the much more orthodox Marian spirituality promoted by the infanta Catalina Micaela. During the eighteenth century the link with Savoy weakened, and Restoration did not help the Company to react against decline, which advanced progressively.

In the second part of the volume, economy, social network, and assistance are put on trial, with the two essays: the first written by E. C. Colombo and G. Uberti and the second by M. Martiano, B. Zucca, and D. Tabor. The financial behavior and management of the Umiliate let us understand the different aims of charity: from the beginning to the golden age and then during the economic decline, the charity was financed in more or less structured ways, by small gifts, or by richer [End Page 578] bequests for distribution to the poor, celebration of Mass, and during the Ancien Régime also dowries for young women. A symmetric image emerges from the study of the social profile of the members, their social connections, and by the social profile of the girls chosen to receive a dowry (seventeenth to twentieth centuries), above all from the middle and lower classes. The third part highlights religiosity and devotions in the Company. M. Giuliani presents the origins of the Company in Turin in the connection with the Jesuits, the Court, and the other female organizations of charity founded in Turin at the end of the sixteenth century. The evolution of the politics of devotion to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and veneration of...


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