This book centers on a fascinating woman, Clare of Rimini (c. 1260 to c. 1324–29), whose story is preserved in a fascinating text. Composed by an anonymous Franciscan, the Life of the Blessed Clare of Rimini is the earliest known saint’s life originally written in Italian, and one of the few such lives to be written while its subject was still living. It tells the story of a controversial woman, set against the background of her roiling city, her star-crossed family, and the tumultuous political and religious landscape of her age.
Twice married, twice widowed, and twice exiled, Clare established herself as a penitent living in a roofless cell in the ruins of the Roman walls of Rimini. She sought a life of solitary self-denial, but was denounced as a demonic danger by local churchmen. Yet she also gained important and influential supporters, allowing her to establish a fledgling community of like-minded sisters. She traveled to Assisi, Urbino, and Venice, spoke out as a teacher and preacher, but also suffered a revolt by her spiritual daughters.
A Female Apostle in Medieval Italy presents the text of the Life in English translation for the first time, bringing modern readers into Clare’s world in all its excitement and complexity. Each chapter opens a different window into medieval society, exploring topics from political power to marriage and sexuality, gender roles to religious change, pilgrimage to urban structures, sanctity to heresy. Through the expert guidance of scholars and translators Jacques Dalarun, Sean L. Field, and Valerio Cappozzo, Clare’s life and context become a springboard for readers to discover what life was like in a medieval Italian city.
Jacques Dalarun is a member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and the former director of the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (CNRS).
Sean L. Field is Professor of History at the University of Vermont.
Valerio Cappozzo is Associate Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Mississippi.
"Both experts and students will find a wealth of value in this translation of and extended commentary upon The Life of Clare of Rimini. Dalarun, Field, and Cappozzo bring needed attention to Clare of Rimini...[The book's] structure allows the authors to navigate brilliantly between introducing students to many aspects of late medieval religious history as well as to the challenges and rewards of close primary source analysis. But, at the same time, the contextual essays also provide more expert readers with a deep understanding of how Clare’s life and vita stand as a complex navigation of apostolic ideals amid the growing institutional church and mendicant orders. This text is essential for those teaching and studying the rich historical moment."—Church History
[A] very engaging and multifaceted book where no stone is left unturned to provide the reader with a multilayered portrayal of this unique figure of medieval religiosity....[A] captivating read, very accessible while never predictable.