1Elizabeth Petroff is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts. In 1978 she wrote what many consider to be an article of seminal importance for the study of the mysticism of mediaeval women: “Medieval Women Visionaries: Seven Stages to Power” Frontiers 3 (1978): 34–35 and, in the following year, published Consolation of the Blessed (New York: Alta Gaia, 1979) with translations of the complete lives of five Italian holy women (Gherardesca of Pisa, Umiltà of Florence, Margarita of Faenza and Aldobrandesca of Siena). Her most recent publication, Medieval Women's Visionary Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986) consists of excerpts from these writings as well as a long and marvellously penetrating introduction.
2See, most particularly, Ernest W. McDonnell, The Beguines and Beghards in Medieval Culture (1954; rpt. New York: Octagon Books, 1969).
3See his letter to Principia about Marcella [Ep. 127], translated by F.A. Wright in Select Letters of St. Jerome (London: Heinemann, 1954): pp. 438–467.
4The Life of Christina of Markyate, edited and translated by C. H. Talbot (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959). See also Christopher J. Holdsworth, “Christina of Markyate,”in Medieval Women, edited by Derek Baker, Studies in Church History; Subsidia 1 (Oxford: Published for the Ecclesiastical History Society by Basil Blackwell, 1978): 185–204.
5For her life, see Vita S. Hildegardis de Alemannia Abbatissae Auctore Theodorico Abbate Benedictino Libris 3 in Acta Sanctorum September 17 (1868) 5: pp. 679–697 PL 197, cols. 91–103; Das Leben der hl. Hildegard von Bingen, translated by A. Fuhrkotter (Salzburg, 1980); and, in English, “The Life of Hildegard of Bingen,” translated by Anna Silvas, o.s.b. in Tjurunga: An Australasian Benedictine Review 29–30 (1985–1986).
The best general work on Hildegard in English is that by Barbara Newman, Sister of Wisdom: Saint Hildegard's Theology of the Feminine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987).
6Omnia Opera in PL 197 (Paris: J. P. Migne, 1882). Translations of varying degrees of accuracy are available in English: The Life and Visions of St. Hildegarde, translated by Francesca Maria Steele. London: Heath, Cranton and Ousely, [n.d.]; Hildegard of Bingen's Book of Divine Works; with Letters and Songs, edited by Matthew Fox (Santa Fe NM: Bear & Company, 1987): pp. 1–266; “Songs,” translated by Kent Kraft, Vox Benedictina 1:3 (1984): 157-161; (1984): 257-263, “Five Liturgical Songs by Hildegard of Bingen,” translated by Barbara L. Grant, Signs 5:3 (1980) 56-67; her letter to Elisabeth of Schönau, translated by Kathryn Kerby–Fulton and Dyan Elliott in “Self–Image and the Visionary Role in Two Letters from the Correspondence of Elizabeth of Schönau and Hildegard of Bingen” Vox Benedictina 2: 3 (1985) 204-223; excerpts from her Liber Compositae Medicinae and Liber Simplicis Medicinae have been translated in Hildegard of Bingen's Medicine, by Wighard Strehlow and Gottfried Hertzka; translated from the German by Karin Anderson Strehlow (Santa Fe NM: Bear & Company, 1988).
7Scivias, edited by A. Fuhrkotter and A. Carlevaris, Corpus Christianorum: Continuatio Mediaevalis 43-43A (Turnhout: Brepols, 1978). Only partial translations are available: one by Bruce Hozeski (Santa Fe NM: Bear and Co., 1986) and that by Steele in her Visions of St. Hildegarde.
8See The Complete Works, translated by Mother Columba Hart, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1980).
9Hart, Hadewijch: The Complete Works, p. 4
10See The Revelations of Mechthild of Magdeburg; translated by Lucy Menzies (London: Longmans Green, 1953), a partial and, unfortunately, inaccurate translation of the Fließende Licht der Gottheit. A complete translation, under the general direction of Gertrud Jaron Lewis, will be published by Cistercian Publications within the next few years.
11We do not know the extent to which Mechthild may have been involved in the ordering and arranging of each chapter. It seems likely that the work was put into its present form by a Dominican, Henry of Halle, who had collected various writings by Mechthild.
12Peter Dronke, The Medieval Lyric (New York: Harper & Row, 1969): p. 81.
13The only translation available in English is, alas, largely inaccurate: The Book of Divine Consolation of the Blessed Angela of Foligno, translated by Mary G. Steegman (New York: Cooper Square, 1966). As a corrective, see Paul Lachance, The Spiritual Journey of the Blessed Angela of Foligno According to the Memorial of Frater A., Studia Antoniana Cura Pontificii Athenaei Antoniani Edita, 29 (Rome: Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum, 1984).
14Le Mirouer des Simples Ames, edited by Romana Guarnieri; Speculum Simplicium Animarum, edited by Paul Verdeyen, Corpus Christianorum: Continuatio Mediaevalis 69 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1986); Marilyn Doiron, “Margaret Porete: The Mirror of Simple Souls: A Middle English Translation” Archivio Italiano per la Storia della Pietà 5 (1968): 241–355; and a translation of another Middle English version by Clare Kirchberger, The Mirror of Simple Souls (London: Burns, Oates and Washbourne, 1927). There is still no complete translation of this work into English. Excerpts, translated by Gwendolyn Bryant, can be found in Katharina M. Wilson, Medieval Women Writers (Athens GA: University of Georgia Press, 1984): pp. 204–226.
15The Showings, translated by Edmund Colledge and James Walsh; Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 198).
16Julian was probably not yet enclosed when she had these visions, for she tells of her mother standing near her to close her eyes when she seemed to be dying.
17The Book of Margery Kempe, translated by W. Butler–Bowden (New York: Devin Adair, 1944).
18Mary G. Mason, “The Other Voice: Autobiographies of Women Writers” in Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical, edited by James Olney (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980): pp. 207–235. This passage is from pp. 210–211.
19The most recent and easily available translation of The Dialogue is that by Suzanne Noffke, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1980).
20Many reasons have been advanced for this demographic imbalance, notably the large numbers of men killed in the Crusades.
21The single most important factor for female longevity seems to have been the danger of childbirth. Unmarried women, because they so often worked in hospitals of some type, were actually exposed to more disease than the average married city woman. Although statistics on mediaeval holy women in Italy give a life expectancy of 58 years, death in childbirth and infant mortality lowered life expectancy to 15–17 years for most of the mediaeval population. Evidence for the city of Strasburg shows that 20% of the female population belonged to some kind of female religious community such as the beguines.
22This is also true for male visionaries, but males are safer in a patriarchal society than women.
23An exception to this is, of course, St. John of the Cross, but he was a disciple of St. Teresa of Avila.