Synopses & Reviews
Dominican Penitent Women presents a fascinating overview of the spirituality, religious practices, and ways of life of medieval Italian women who belonged to the Dominican Order as lay members or penitents. Through selected texts, readers gain a fresh perspective on the institutional and spiritual foundations of Dominican lay life, but also an understanding of how these women refashioned Dominican ideals into practices that best responded to their individual and social means. Their way of life created an important alternative for women who sought religious perfection in the world. The first section consists of two penitent rules: the "Ordinationes of Munio from the late 13th century and the formal penitent rule of the early 15th century, which show how penitents were to organize and live their lives. The second section is dedicated to hagiographic sources. The third section is made up of penitent womens' religious writing. The texts translated here present an overview of Dominican women's literary production that complements the writings of Catherine of Siena, already available in English. While Dominican penitent women held an important position in medieval piety, aside from Catherine of Siena, their spirituality has not attracted much scholarly attention. As the first comprehensive introduction to medieval Dominican laywomen and Dominican penitent spirituality in English, this book makes a significant scholarly and spiritual contribution.