By Cristina Mazzoni, John Cirignano
Angela of Foligno is taken into account through many because the maximum mystical voice between Italian medieval ladies. She committed herself to a continuing pursuit of God whilst as a middle-aged girl she misplaced her mom, husband and youngsters; illiterate herself, she dictated her reviews to her confessor, who transcribed her phrases into Latin because the Memorial. In a right away and lively type, it tells of her ache, visions, pleasure, identity with Christ, and eventually her mystical union with God. besides the fact that, her booklet has consistently been seen with suspicion, certainly even bordering on heresy; her spirituality is going past traditional language in addition to past authorised doctrines and modes of prayer. This annotated choice from the Memorial is preceded by way of a biographical advent which areas Angela's textual content in its ancient, cultural, and religious context; the accompanying interpretive essay which follows compares Angela's adventure with that of twentieth-century Christian feminist theologians. the quantity is finished with an annotated bibliography.
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Extra info for Angela of Foligno's Memorial
The topos of the family as a barrier to holiness has in fact a long tradition in Christian thought: Angela follows Christ's dictum in Luke 14:26, whereby rejection of one's family is a precondition to true discipleship. Marriage was in fact perceived as an impediment by many medieval holy women, who found in the religious life that freedom and autonomy unavailable to them in the secular world. If the consolation Angela found in the death of her family has to be tempered by her later admission of grief over the deaths of her mother and children (though, interestingly enough, not of her husband), still the exultation she declared concerning her ability to finally follow and imitate the crucified Christ thanks to the demise of those people whom in this world she most dearly loved does, and indeed must continue to carry its shocking impact.
John Cirignano's translation of their works is based on Latin texts found in Giovanni Pozzi's and Claudio Leonardi's critical anthology Scrittrici mistiche italiane. Umiltà of Faenza, Margherita of Cortona, Vanna of Orvieto, and Chiara of Montefalco provide us with a context of little-heard female voices which underline both Angela's extraordinariness and her continuity with an important female culture. In the many years that I have been involved with the study of women mystics, I have received much help and encouragement from many different people in many different ways.
But the more recent work of psychoanalytic theorists Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray is less simplistic and, although not religious, more sympathetic to the claims of Christian women mystics. According to Luce Irigaray's Speculum of the Other Woman (1974), mysticism and femininity, inseparably intertwined, are places that subvert the patriarchal order. Mystical discourse allows women's speech to become public, to articulate female language through an excess of both body and words. Angela of Foligno is quoted by Irigaray in an epigraph to her chapter "La mystérique" (which abounds in Angelan echoes throughout) in order to underscore Page 19 mystical eroticism as a peculiarly female pleasure that allows the convergence, in mystical union, of the divinity and the woman's flesh.
Angela of Foligno's Memorial by Cristina Mazzoni, John Cirignano