A history of women religious in the early Irish Church : the hagiographical evidence
Anderson, Jill J.
Thesis: Doctor of Philosophy, University of Toronto (1995)
This study explores the lives of religious women of the early Celtic Church in Ireland through the eyes of the hagiographers. Few Lives of Irish women saints remain. thus much use has been made of the numerous references to women found in the Lires of men. Other genres of Irish texts have also been consulted. While the Irish hagiographical genre cannot, except rarely, be recorded as an accurate historical record of individuals, it does, at the very least, reflect a view of the world familiar either to the writer or to their sources. It is thus through an analysis of the attitudes and assumptions of these early writers that some idea of the daily lives of holy women emerges. Although much time has been spent during this exploration upon a reconstruction of daily routine through a collation of the data available as an alluvial depository source. considerable time has also been spent examining the use of metaphor in the above genre. This has been particularly helpful in the attempt made here to shed some new light upon the spiritual life of religious women. This latter methodological approach has also been of particular benefit in determining the limits of the power and status enjoyed by these women within Irish society. In the final analysis, it is evident from the picture which emerges that these women played an important and often very active role in the life of the Church.