Margherita of Cortona: Women, Preaching, and the Writing of Hagiography
Author: Kienzle, Beverly Mayne
Source: Medieval Sermon Studies, Volume 54 , pp. 38-50(13)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:This article examines Margherita of Cortona (1247–97), who took a penitent habit in the late 1270s. In 1290 Margherita was granted permission to rebuild the church of San Basilio near her cell and a secular priest became her confessor. After her death in 1297, her former confessor, the Franciscan Giunta Bevegnati, composed Margherita's Legenda, which provides an account of her life, conversion and penitence, her conversations with Christ, and her charitable works. In addition to the Legenda, there is also an altarpiece, portraying Margherita and scenes from her life, and the seventeenth-century watercolour paintings that reproduce the frescos which once decorated the church of Santa Margherita, the former San Basilio. Following a short introduction to Margherita's life, and a brief examination of preaching for women in the Middle Ages and its prohibitions, the article examines how the biographer, Giunta Bevegnati, represents the relationship of Margherita to preaching and sermons, in particular focusing on passages in Margherita's Legenda, where her efficacious speech or performance has a clear impact on an audience and her biographer does not use the term 'preach' for her utterances. Finally, the extent to which Margherita's biographer uses hagiography for homiletic purposes is discussed.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Harvard Divinity School, USA
Publication date: 2010-10-01