The Papacy and Thirteenth-Century Women
Sponsor:Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University and Women in the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition (WIFIT)
Organizer: Maria Pia Alberzoni, University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Presider: Jean François Godet-Calogeras, Franciscan Institute (St. Bonaventure University)
“The Misfortune of Being Female”: the Religious Experience of Women in the Marches during the Pontificate of Gregory IX
Bartolacci, Francesca (Universita di Macerata)
This paper outlined some examples of religious women’s movements during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. According to Bartolacci, the church was ill prepared for newness in the 13th century of the female religious movement, which gave a voice to the desire for penitential inspiration, and deep personal commitment. Women lived together in small communities, by choice, as recluses.
The Cistercians held a strong attraction to women. In 1134, the order of the Cistercians barred women but there continued to exist communities that followed the precepts of the order even though the chapter was closed to women at that time. San Giacomo di Colle Luce of Cingoli was inhabited by Benedictine nuns and in 1240, a Papal document addressed to the abbess indicated that the monastery was declared exempt from papal juristiction. This is the only reference to a Franciscan connection. In 1394, St. James was incorporated into the monastery of St. Catherine, a Benedictine monastery. The monastery was Franciscan in its early phase but then changed over to a Benedictine one.
Martha’s Destiny: Religious Women as Canonical Problem Female Experiences and Papal Government in Umbria and Tuscany
Pellegrini, Letizia (Universita degli Studi di Macerata)
The second half of the 12th century was a time of experiments of religious life for religious women and the foundation of double monasteries. New experimental forms of religious life for women flourished; women who wanted to preserve their virginity became beguines, or humiliata (Lombardi). This phenomenon spread through Europe. There were groups of holy men and religious women called ‘humiliati’ living in separate communities who had given up their possessions. These communities provided an evangelical form of religious life for women. Fraters Minoris was a group that accepted nothing but only took what they got by the work of their hands. Frateris Sororis Minoris, was the female offshoot of this group.
In 1233 Pope Gregory takes the beguine communities beyond the Alps under his protection. The application of the works laid out by Popes was the responsibility of the Friars; they were to ensure it was carried out correctly, and they were responsible for the women’s pastoral care. There was a restriction placed on the proliferation of new religious orders during the Fourth Lateran Council 1215. Women were suddenly denied participation in this way of life. Government and regulation continued to be needed, between 1241-1261, four papal letters took measures against women who wandered barefoot. An evangelical and apostolic vocation of women was not considered a proper form of life. Control and regulation by the Church was enforced on women – religious life depended on the stubborn resistance of women to adapt to these limitationn; for example, women aided in hospitals in Italy until Boniface imposed enclosure on them. The feeling was that they could not be nuns and administer in hospitals.