Annual PACWC Lecture and Reception for New Women Faculty | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
University of Pittsburgh

Annual PACWC Lecture and Reception for New Women Faculty

September 28, 2016 - 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Prof. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Dept. of French and Italian

Hosted by the Provost's Office and GSWS.

2500 Posvar Hall.

When we think of medieval holy women we mostly think of mystics, of visionary women enraptured, absent from this world, and seeking union with God. While these aspects are important parts of medieval mysticism there is another, more practical side, to mystical visions: especially in the late Middle Ages, in a time of turmoil and endless warfare in Europe, holy women found a political voice through divinely sent visions. My talk focuses on the two most powerful and influential of these visionaries: Saint Birgitta of Sweden (1303-1373), canonized three times between 1391 and 1436, and Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), canonized in 1461 and since 1970 a Doctor of the Church. Through their visions and revelations they attempted to intervene in some of the most important crises of their time: the Hundred Years War, civil conflicts in Italy, and the Great Schism of the Western Church (1378-1417). In my illustrated lecture I explore how they used their visions in order to construct a political program, how they strove to implement it through letters and personal interventions, and how their detractors zeroed in on their feminine nature to attack and discredit them.



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