THIRTEENTH CENTURY RELIGIOUS WOMEN An understanding of Saint Clare of Assisi, who was born as Chiara di Favarone di Offreduccio, begins

with her times and her contemporaries. Clare must be seen from within the struggles of thirteenth century women and the "women's movement" of her day if we would appreciate her courage and accomplishments, as well as her holiness. This selected bibliography presents an initiation into those elements of Clare's life.

Bolton, Brenda. "Mulieres Sanctae." Sanctity and Secularity: The Church and the World. Edited: Derek Baker. Oxford: Studies in Church History, 10, 1973. Boulding, Elise. The Underside of History: A View of Women through Time. Colorado: Westview Press, 1976:466-8. [The counterculture aspect of Clare's Order] Brooke, Roslind B., and Christopher N. L., "St. Clare." Medieval Women. Edited Derek Baker. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978. A History of Private Life: II Revelations of the Medieval World. Edited: Georges Duby. Translated Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988. Erickson, Carrolly. The Medieval Vision. New York: Oxford University, 1976. Herlihy, D. Medieval Households. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985. Distant Echoes. Edited: J. A. Nichols, and L. Thomas Shank. Medieval Religious Women, Series I. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, Inc., 1984. Johnson, Penelope D. Equal in Monastic Profession: Religious Women in Medieval France. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Pasztor, Edith. "The Popes of the Thirteenth Century and Women Religious." Greyfriars Review 7 (1993): 381-405. Valerio, Adriana. "La questione femminile al tempo di Chiara." Laurentianum 29 (1990): 50-61. Verdon, J. "Les sources de l'Histoire de la femme en Occident aux Xe-XIIIe siècles." La femme dans les civilisations des Xe-XIIIe siècles. Actes du colloque tenu à Poitiers les 2325 sept 1976. Poitiers: 1977: 129-61. Walsh, James A. "Women of the Century." Thirteenth the Greatest of Centuries. New York: Catholic Press Society, 1913: 316-36. [Clare's effect upon society, 320-4]

The following background reading presents examples of the spirituality of women contemporaneous with Clare's times. Most citations include mention of Clare.

Bynum, Caroline Walker. Jesus As Mother. University of California Press, 1982. ___. Holy Feast and Holy Fast: the Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women. University of California Press 1987: 92-102. Goodich, Michael. "The Contours of Female Piety in Later Medieval Hagiography". Church History 50 (1981). ___. Vita Perfecta: The Ideal of Sainthood in the Thirteenth Century. Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 1982. Peters, Marygrace, O.P. "Beguine Women: Medieval Spirituality, Modern Implications." Review for Religious 54 (1995): 224-36. Sensi, Mario. "The Women's Recluse Movement in Umbria during the 13th and 14th Centuries." Translated Edward Hagman, O.F.M. Cap. Greyfriars Review 8 (1994): 319-45. Vauchez, A. "L'Ideal de saintetè dans le mouvement fèminin franciscain aux XIIIe et XIVe siécles." Il Movemento religioso femminile in Umbria nei secoli XIII-XIV. 322-32. Regione dell'Umbria: "La Nuova Italia" Editrice, 1984. Weinstein, Donald, and Rudolph, M. Bell. Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.
Few possibilities of religious life were open to women of the lower classes in the thirteenth century. Traditional monastic life was available only to the upper classes, especially since sufficient monasteries to hold all the women who desired to enter religious life were lacking. Some acquaintance with Monastic life for women in the thirteenth century would make possible a fuller appreciation of the choice Clare made in establishing a new form of religious life for women.

Hilpisch, Stephanus, O.S.B. A History of Benedictine Nuns. Collegeville: St. John's Abbey Press, 1958. Il Movemento religioso femminile in Umbria nei secoli XIII-XIV Regione dell'Umbria: "La Nuova Italia" Editrice, 1984. Skinner, M. "Benedictine Life for Women in Central France, 850-1100: A Feminist Revival." Distant Echoes. Editors: J. A. Nichols,and Lillian Thomas Shank. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1984: 87-113.

Thompson, S. "The Problem of the Cistercian Nuns in the Twelfth and early Thirteenth Centuries." Medieval Women. Edited: Derek Baker. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978: 227-51.

Apart from coenobitical life in a monastery, men might live as hermits, leaving their solitude to preach or care for the needy from time to time. For women, the option of solitude took the form of reclusion. Aelred of Rievaulx responded to an appeal for a rule for women.

Aelred of Rievaulx. Rule of Life for a Recluse. Translated: Mary Paul Macpherson, O.C.S.O. Spencer, MA: Cistercian Fathers Series, 1971. Darwin, Francis, D.S. The English Medieval Recluse. London: Clowes and Sons, N.D.
Toward the latter part of the 12th century an increasing number of women were forming groups not connected with traditional monastic Orders. Some of these offered a balanced life of communal living coupled with manual work as in the Guilds. Others were drawn to the solitude of an eremitic lifestyle that included some charitable activity. Such were the women at San Angelo di Panzo with whom Clare lived for a brief time.

Santucci, F. "S. Angelo di Panzo presso Assisi." Atti Accademia Properziana del Subasio 13 (1986): 83-112.
Any study of Clare and her followers must proceed bearing in mind the important fact that they did not live the monastic spirituality of withdrawal, but rather the incarnation spirituality preached by Francis and his Friars. This was, in fact, the spirituality of the anchoresses whose vibrant lives have been misrepresented by historians who focused upon the exception who was dramatically sealed in her tomb-like room. These holy women lived a monastic lifestyle, in the sense of it being a scheduled life of prayer, but certainly not as in traditional monasticism which strove to be a Christian community capable of providing for its own needs so as to preclude communication with the "outside world." The daughters of the Lady Clare, on the contrary, were an integral part of their town and not only served it but, in their utter poverty, depended upon it for all their needs. Far from being walled away, these women were an esteemed contemplative presence in or near almost every town, to whom the people turned as to their personal intercessors, spiritual models, and comforters in every sorrow and need. In order to understand the mind of Clare and her intentions for her Order, then as now, the following readings offer similarities in the lives of other women who preceded Clare and her sisters in embracing just such a vocation. Familiarity with their influence upon Clare and her sisters offers a deeper grasp of the new concept of religious life Clare introduced at San Damiano.

Ancren Riwle, or, The Nun's Riwle. Modernized: James Morton. London: The King's Classics, De La More Press, 1905; Cooper Square Publishers, 1966. Georgiana, Linda. The Solitary Self: Individuality in Ancrene Wisse. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Hone, Mary Francis, O.S.C. "Clare and the Ancren Riwle," The Cord 36 (1986): 202-14, 275-88, 304-12. McDonnell, Ernest W. The Beguines and Beghards in Medieval Culture. New York: Octagon Books, 1969. Sensi, Mario "Incarcerate e recluse in Umbria nei secoli XIII e XIV." Il movemento religioso femminile in Umbria nei secoli XIII e XIV. Regione dell'Umbria: "La Nuova Italia" Editrice, 1984. Steele, Francesca M. Anchoresses of the West. London: Herder. 1903.
Problems confronting the early women who chose to follow Francis of Assisi, and the development of the new form of religious life Clare initiated may be studied in the following readings.

Andreozzi, Gabriele. "Saint Clare and the Order of Penance." The Cord 43 (1993): 21821. Casagrande, Giovanna. Presenza di Chiara in Umbria nei secoli XIII-XIV Spunti e Appunti." Collectanea Franciscana 62 (1992): 481-505. [Clare's presence in Umbria in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, its meaning and continuity] Crosby, Michael H., O.F.M. Cap. "Francis, Repair My House." The Cord 47 (1997): 102119. Eckerstorfer, Robert, O.F.M. The Influence of Charism and Institution upon Clare of Assisi. A paper presented at Bonaventure University, 1980. Flood, David, O.F.M. "Clare's Politics." Franciscan Women: The Dynamics of Christian Fidelity. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1975. ---. "Clare, San Damiano, and the History of Franciscan Women." Franciscan Digest 3 (1993): 71-79. Flood, David O.F.M. ,and Alice Trebatowski. Franciscan Women in the Early 13th Century. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1976. Flood, David, O.F.M., and Athena Calogeras. For People: An Introduction to Franciscan Life. Illinois: Haversack, 1990. Part I, Chapters 1 through 4. Lachance, Paul, O.F.M. "Franciscan Women." The Spiritual Journey of the Blessed Angela of Foligno According to the Memorial of Frater A. Rome: Pontificium Anthenaeum, 1983: 60-4.

Manselli, Raoul. "La Chiesa e il Francescanesimo femmilile." Movimento religioso femminile e francescanesimo nel secolo XIII. Atti del VII Convegno Internazionale, Assisi, 1979; Assisi: Societa Internazionale di Studi Francescani, 1980: 239-61. Marini, Alfonso. "Le fondazione Francescane femminile nel Lazio nel duecento." Collectanea Franciscana 63 (1993): 71-96. Pasztor, Edith. "The Popes of the Thirteenth Century and Women Religious." Greyfriars Review 7 (1993): 381-405. Rosof, Patricia J. F. The Order of Poor Clares: A Thirteenth Century Struggle for recognition within the Franciscan Order. A paper presented at St. Bonaventure, NY: The Franciscan Institute, N.D. Rusconi, Roberto. "L'Espansione del Francescanesimo femminile nel secolo XIII." Movemento religioso femminile e francescanismo nel secolo XIII. Assisi, 1979: 279-85. [Women influenced by Clare. 460.] van Asseldonk, Optatus, O.F.M. Cap. "'Sorores Minores' e Chiara d'Assisi a San Damiano: una scelta tra clausura e lebbrosi?" Collectanea Franciscana 63 (1993): 399-421. Vauchez, Andre. "L'Ideal de saintete dans la mouvement feminin franciscain aux XIII et XIV siecles." Movemento religioso femminile e francescanismo nel secolo XIII. Assisi 1979.