Retrieving a living tradition: The recovery of the historical significance of Angelina of Montegiove as Franciscan tertiary, Italian beguine, and leader of women
Angelina of Montegiove (d. 1435) stands as a major figure in Franciscan women's history and in the development of Tertiary (Third Order) Observance in the Franciscan tradition. The dissertation recovers and analyzes hagiographic materials written about Angelina two centuries after her death, as well as other versions of her "life" dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It focuses on details of the biographies, examining with a hermeneutic of suspicion various representative texts. Both deconstructive and reconstructive purposes are present.
Contextual developments within Franciscan history in the Quattrocento are placed against a backdrop of Church history so that clarity is brought to the importance of Angelina between 1395-1435--the years in which she established a particular form of Third Order Franciscan life in Italy. Internal resources, the "collective memory" of the present community descended from Angelina, are used to fill in the omissions in traditional interpretations of Angelina's significance as an Italian beguine and Franciscan tertiary.
Angelina's form of life extended across Europe, even into Poland in the mid-fifteenth century. The dissertation investigates the founding moment of Tertiary Observance in Poland, the proliferation of Third Order houses there between 1454-1626, and the unenclosed nature of life in these houses until 1617. It also presents the story of enforced enclosure and the monasticization of Third Order women in Poland who became known as Bernardine Sisters. Lastly, the work traces the internal tradition of Angelina's story as it was transmitted in the Polish community and in the foundation that arrived in the United States in 1894.
The method of analysis and reconstruction follows the path of feminist theology, i.e., a method of correlation in which one pole is the Franciscan tradition and the other pole is the experience of women in patriarchal cultures of Italy and Poland.
0581: Middle Ages
0453: Womens studies