Hello. My name is Silvana Panciera and with the help of my friend Philippe Hensmans I decided to create this web site in order to share the fruits of my many years of research on the beguinal movement. This is a “open free” information, but thank you to quote the source.
My interest in the Beguines began in the exhibition The Closed Garden of the Soul (Brussels, 1994), which dealt with various forms of female spirituality. On a panel of the exhibition I read: “Would the beguinal movement perhaps be the first feminist movement? “. This question was the starting point of a research that has continued since then, which for two years has led me to visit what remains today of all the Belgian beguinages and which has pushed me more and more to want to make known and rehabilitate this feminine history. A form of posthumous justice towards the great protagonists, women fought, repressed, ignored, ignored and sometimes even derided.
Here are the steps.
In 2009, Fidélité Editions published the book Les béguines, which was very successful and was printed again in 2012.
In 2010, the four languages DVD (EN-FR-IT-NL), All om all. Discovering the Beguinal Movement in Europe, which is also found on Youtube.
In 2011 Gabrielli published the Italian version of the book, Le Beghine. Una storia di donne per la libertà, with the preface by Marco Vannini.
In 2013, two other translations appeared in English and German. The first The Beguines is available as an ebook. The German edition Die beginen (Ed.Octopus) is released in paper version in April 2014.
In 2015, in collaboration with the iconographer Martina Bugada, I published Tre Voci per l’amore (Three Voices for Love), where the icons and an anthology of texts were found of three famous Beguines: Mechthild di Magdeburg, Hadewijch and Marguerite Porete.
Since 2014, I have circulated the News Letter Beguines, information about the beguinal movement of yesterday and today.
Since 2016, I’m preparing this website, whose realisation would involved me for a long time. It is an homage to the thousands of women who, from the end of the twelfth century to the end of the twentieth century, have lived an existential adventure that was opposed by many, ignored by too many, and even derided by some. The Beguines would instead have much to teach to us men and women of the twenty first century about deep love and sainthood in freedom.
The News Letter “Beguines” informs about beguinages and beguines, both traditional and modern. You can also collaborate by sending news to firstname.lastname@example.org
To suscribe is also a way to touch in contact : please send your email to email@example.com
Please, read below the recent News with, between brackets, the date of their sending :
Beguines in Maine (USA) (11-09-2019)
Sr Courtney Haase wrote to me about the very original experience she promotes in Skowhegan, in the rural Maine, the most northeastern state of the United States. As we read in the web site “Companions of Claire ” is an experimental community”, an emerging Franciscan community for the mature women in the Beguine tradition. “We wish to create an experimental community following the Primitive Rule of St. Clare, involving older women in the Beguine tradition, Our focus group will be women over 62 either those who have left religious life ans wish to reenter, or those who wish to give the rest of their life to God“.
Sr Courtney spent 16 years as a Poor Claire, then she took distance from the institution and was very involved in the rural projects until to be nominated as an Ashoka Fellow candidate for innovation in agriculture. She initiated and ran for 11 years the non-profit Small Dairy Project, to help small farmers become licence dairies. Now, with Companions of Claire project, she offers a possibility for women in vocational need. In fact, separate from the convent there is a one room cabine as a hermitage where anyone can stay for a week.
“Minnelieder einer Nonne” (Love songs of a nun). Thus the German philologist Franz Joseph Mone defined the 45 songs he had discovered in 1838 in the current Royal Library of Belgium. When he discovers these texts, no author’s name accompanies them. Only a small note on the sidelines of the manuscripts will allow 20 years later to unravel the mystery. But who is this Hadewijch, by some experts identified with the Brussels beguine Bloemardinne? We will have to wait for the studies of the Jesuit Joseph Van Mierlo for a little better understanding of her and for the research, since 1992, of the Dutch musicologist Louis Peter Grijp to associate 19 of her strophic poems with the music that accompanied them.
It is in this mystery that the precious album edited by Albin Michel (book and CD) suggests to plunge us; in “this corpus of spiritual love songs a “unicum” throughout the Western Middle Ages” as written by Mendelein Bara ocs, in the article in Italian language available at this link: http://beguines.info/wp-content/ uploads / 2017/08 / Hadewijch-by-Wendelien.pdf
Happy reading, good listening and joyful holidays.
A future beguinage in Halle (Belgium) (o9-06-2019)
It is trough the press that we learned about the project of a future beguinage in Halle, a city of nearly 35,000 inhabitants located in Flanders, about thirty km south of Brussels. Halle is well known in Belgium for its shrine dedicated to the Black Madonna and for the annual pilgrimage on May the first.
The project of a future beguinage is born in the heart of the Monastery of the Sacramentine Sisters, which even has a website: https://monasteriumhallefr.wordpress.com/overons
Founded in the 17th century by the Dominican father Antoine Lequieu, the Order of the Holy Sacrament was approved in 1693. This religious family is dedicated to perpetual adoration, also during the night, to reaffirm the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and “to remedy the growing disinterest among believers“.
The community of Sacramentines of Halle has gradually decreased and today it has only three nuns, interspersed with 30 years of age difference: Sister Imelda (90 years), Angela (60 years) and Marie Madeleine (30 years). To meet the requirements of their continuity and their presence in the community of the faithfuls who attend their church, they envisage the creation of an ex-novo beguinage, starting from the bricks. The amateurs who would be interested and would like to make contact (preferably in Dutch) can write to firstname.lastname@example.org
We wish good luck to these enterprising religious, perhaps also future beguines.
Historical rehabilitation (13-05-2019)
Thanks to the informations available with Internet, I stumbled upon the photo on the left: it is a commemorative plate that the Municipal Administration of Nave placed in June 2018 on the birth place of Benvegnuda Pincinella (+1518). The plate reads: “In memory of Benvegnuda Pincinella, a medical herbalist , in the 500th anniversary of her burning at the stake. Here she lived and provided relief. The Municipal Administration against prejudice, discrimination, injustice“. What a thrill to find about only forty kilometers from where I live (Gargnano and Nave are both localities in the province of Brescia) this plate. Nave, a community of about 11,000 inhabitants, felt the duty to rehabilitate one of those “witches” against whom, especially during the 16th and 17th centuries, public and religious powers raged. I really want to go in person to put a flower in memory of Benvegnuda and to compliment the Mayor and his Administration. But even more I would like to address with you a request to Anne Idalgo, mayor of Paris, so that such a plate is placed in the Place of the Hôtel de Ville to remember the unjust burning to which Marguerite Porete was condemned for writing a book dictated by freedom of Love. Who among you could help me in this initiative, by contacting the Mayor of Paris or by indicating to me an association that could do it? Thank you and we hope that Marguerite can also have her right rehabilitation in the place of that despicable execution.
A Beguine in Australia (03-05-2019)
It was a real surprise to receive the beautiful message from Lee-Ann Wein from such a distant country like Australia . Lee-Ann, on May 31, 2018, feast of the Visitation, made her choice of beguinal life in the Benedictine Abbey of Jamberloo, a village of just under 2000 inhabitants in New South Wales, south of Sydney. Lee-Ann calls herself a Beguine, a choice she has matured over a period of five years. She makes candles, wears a dress made of natural canvas, lives in a small hermitage in the Abbey’s property, and has chosen a life style of contemplation, simplicity with a particular attention to prayer for people who are victims of sexual abuse and for the dignity of every woman. Among her community services is the accompaniment of funerals.
Lee-Ann would be very interested in an exchange of mails. To those wishing to write to her, this is the address: Lee-Ann Wein <email@example.com>.
I also hope to be able to meet her as soon as possible, when I get the chance. Dear Lee-Ann, welcome with us.
“La croix aux bœufs” (06-04-2019)
Thanks to Lina Kortobi, I recently discovered the beguinage La Croix aux boeufs which is located in St Martin du Lac (Burgundy-Franche Comté). It is a beguinage based on a strong Christian spiritual inspiration, with initially an apostolic and monastic community. Oblates and couples are also part of it without living under the same roof. Because the initial community have lived in Belgium for 5 years, they well knew the beguines and wanted to be inspired by them. With their high vocation of proclaiming the God’s word and thanks to their school of evangelization, “the Community offers retreats, seminars, teachings and training, in various forms according to the places, the needs, the groups and the persons requesting; during the day, in the evening or at the weekend, they organize occasional gatherings (summer campus) or undertake itinerant missions “. In short, a very apostolic vocation.
The first motivation of those who would like to be part of this project must be the spiritual pursuit, but the three vows – poverty, chastity, obedience – are not required to be admitted to the Beguinage. Many other information can be found on their website.
This is a determined and well-defined experience that enriches the multiform array of modern expressions inspired by the beguinal movement. For contacts: Béguinage, Communauté apostolique et monastique
71110 St Martin du lac
06 66 73 08 96 ou 09 78 23 31 86
The Beguines of Medieval Paris (28-03-2019)
I warmly thank Tanya Stabler Miller for introducing me to her wonderful book The Beguines of Medieval Paris. Gender, Patronage, and Spiritual Authority, University of Pennsylvania Press, 304 pages, 2014 (Kindle ebook), 2017 (paper) and I invite those wishing to read a certain number of pages (including summary and map of medieval Paris) to click on https : //www.amazon.fr/Beguines-Medieval-Paris-Patronage-3-Apr-2014/dp/B013RP2U8O/ref=sr_1_1? ie = UTF8 & qid = 1553745003 & sr = 8-1 & keywords = Tanya + Stabler # reader_B00W35SUG6
You will see directly how her writing is engaging and documented. Not for nothing The Beguines of Medieval Paris was a reference text for the book La nuit des béguines (see News Letter n.1/2018 ) by the late Aline Kiner.
Tanya Stabler Miller’s book describes the beguinal communities in the Paris of the 13th and 14th centuries, at the time it was the largest city in Western Europe due to its intellectual and economic appeal. Paris: “vibrant and cosmopolitan” as defined by the author.
“Drawing on an array of sources, including sermons, religious literature, tax rolls, and royal account books, Tanya Stabler Miller contextualizes the history of Parisian beguines within a spectrum of lay religious activity and theological controversy. She examines the impact of women on the construction of medieval clerical identity, the valuation of women’s voices and activities, and the surprising ways in which local networks and legal structures permitted women to continue to identify as beguines long after a church council prohibited the beguine status. Based on intensive archival research, The Beguines of Medieval Paris makes an original contribution to the history of female religiosity and labor, university politics and intellectual debates, royal piety, and the central place of Paris in the commerce and culture of medieval Europe“. (source: http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15228.html ). Finally, I would welcome Tanya Stbler Miller, a professor of History at Loyola University in Chicago, in our Beguines News Letter and rejoice in her presence with us.
8 March & Beguines (12-03-2019)
Among the many expressions surfaced on the occasion of March 8 Women’s Day, it was a real surprise to find an article on the beguinal movement in a Spanish on line magazine. Muchas gracias to Vicente and Maria Luisa for letting me know about to me. Even if you do not read Spanish, just click out of curiosity on the website https://cantabrialiberal.com/opinion/un-movimiento-femenino-de-la-edad-media-por-juan-goti-ordenana,482662.html and you will see the article by professor Juan Goti Ordeñana of the University of Valladolid who regularly writes in the Cantabria Liberal magazine.
The importance of this text, even with its minor inaccuracies, is that it presents the beguines’ movement as a manifestation of freedom and autonomy of women. It underlines their influence on the people, as perhaps even superior to the preaching of the monks and secular clergy. (“su influencia religiosa en el pueblo, que la predicación de los monjes de los monasterios y el clero secular de las parroquias“). The most surprising thing is that the beguines have been remembered from Spain by a man on March the 8th. Another mimosa has bloomed.
10/2018 Beguinal wishes 2018 (21-12-2018)
Today, receiving greetings from Breda’s Beguinage, I finally found the image that would have accompanied mine too for you. On the contrary, they are two images, recomposed in one: the Beguinage of Breda with the luminous Christmas tree and the decorations of light and on the right the stamps used for shipping. Very special stamps because they depict the beguinage of Breda thus bringing its image into the world. Congratulation to the Breda beguinage for this joyfull surprise. Together with their wishes I also join mine for a year of justice, peace and sorority.
9/2018 Marguerite Porete again (21-11-2018)
A new French book on Marguerite has just appeared: : Le livre de la femme qui brûle. Marguerite Porete (The book of the woman who burns. Marguerite Porete). Knowing the author I do not doubt that it will be a small masterpiece The author, Jean-Yves Leloup, is a writer, philosopher, theologian and orthodox priest. He has published many books and has given innovative translations and interpretations of the Gospel, the Epistles and the Apocalypse of John, as well as the Gospels considered apocryphal (Philip, Mary, Thomas). This book was reported to me from Quebec by my friend Jacques who writes: “I have recently read the book by Jean Yves Leloup : Le livre de la femme qui brûle. Marguerite Porete. He comments on some of her deepest words. The book is an ode to the woman, to the love of the Gift, to God beyond God. Jean Yves says: “I have harvested here only a few sparks, embers of this burning bush. So we will not find in this book an exhaustive study or summary of her work. I only collect what was enough to relieve the cold of my soul. ”
Thank you very much, dear Jacques, for this reading which will warm ours souls too.
8/2018 Nel giardino delle beghine – In the beguines’ garden (5-11-2018)
We were about seventy people, far more than those expected by the organizers. We were reunited on Saturday, October 27th in Mantua, via Dugoni, n. 12, and also its new headquarters freely offered by the congregation of the nuns “Little Daughters of Holy Crowned Mary “. A spin off generated by the Sororità and grafted onto a still existing female religious tradition, but aware of the need to enlarge its enclosure. This new association wants to be a meeting place and support for all women, of all creeds and cultures, who acts in defense and promotion of women. The primary instrument will be human relations, as a prerequisite for the construction of a humanity of justice, even of gender, and of sorority, thus promoting a new female symbolic order as well. Importantly, the movement of the beguines is the identifying reference to grow and focus on the paradigms of a new humanity. This is a very important recognition for the beguines, these women so often still ignored today, devalued and even derided. As a final synthesis, here the comment by Delfina “What a joy to see the birth of spaces of female freedom!”
Next activity in Mantua, in via Dugoni 12, on November 25th at 3:30 pm for a meeting with Silvana Panciera on the theme “Getting to know the Beguinal movement in Europe”
7/2018 Beginenreise 2018 in Switzerland, 29 April to 3 May (15-09-2018)
I promised you a report about the Beguinenreise 2018, study travel organized by the indefatigable Brita Lieb for knowing the beguinal movement in Switzerland. I had the honor, the only non-German participant, to travel with about thirty wonderful women, most of whom considering themselves as beguines. Brita and Angelika even wore the mantle typical of the beguines and Anna was moved to tears when she was talking about these “historical mothers”. Unfortunately, despite the very kind Gabi was permanently supporting me for the translation in English, I captured only a small part of the information provided during the visits and presentations. So I had to leverage during the time spent together on all the resources of body language. Really not easy for me! At the end of my 2 days with them, I parted from the formidable group saying that maybe I had lost some information, but certainly not the spirit of friendship that I shared with them. Thanks, therefore, to all of you, dear friends of the Beguinenreise 2018, really a only-women travel as even the bus driver was a woman.
For those who were not there, here is the interesting paper Beguines in Switzerland presented by Brita Lieb during the trip and translated into English by Gabi Bierkl. And also Beguines and Beghards by Martina Wehrli-Johns found in the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland. Enjoy the reading.
Apolline Vranken is not a beguine, but a young student very interested in the beguinal world to the point of having chosen it as the theme of her Master 2 thesis in architecture at the Université Libre in Brussels. She contacted me in April 2017 about this project, we had exchanges and since then she is also a member of our newsletter Beguines.
Thanks to my friend Colette, I learned that Apolline’s thesis whose title is “Des béguinages à l’architecture féministe. Comment interroger et subvertir les rapports de genre matérialisés dans habitat? »(From the beguinages to the feminist architecture. How to interrogate and subvert the gender relations materialized in the inhabited area?» received the Université des Femmes award. Since 1996, this price rewards annually two works at the end of the cycle that have developed a field “Women” with the approach of feminist analysis. Our warmest congratulations to Apolline. Thanks for sending the link for consulting her thesis. Good holidays well deserved to her and to everybody of us.
4/2018 Marie d’Oignies (22-06-2018)
Before that Gregory IX in 1228 forbade the preaching by the laity, some men and women of particular charisma and authority were granted the faculty of preaching, the so-called mandatum predicandi. The book “Anche i laici possono predicare?” (Even the laity can preach?) (E. Bianchi, C.U.Cortoni, F. Mandreoli, R.Saccenti, Edizioni Qiqajon, Comunità di Bose, 2017, p.10) counts among the women who enjoyed this recognition, in addition to the famous Hildegard of Bingen , also the beguine Marie d’Oignies (1177-1213). In the Beguines Gallery we have remembered this extraordinary Blessed who lived in Belgium where her cult and her relics are preserved. In particular, we would like to remember her on 23 June, the day of her death at the age of 36. Let us remember Marie for her love towards the suffering in Willambroux ‘s leper colony and for her regenerative influence. Thanks to it, she involved her husband Jean in the commitment of a marital sanctity and changed the life of Jaques de Vitry who, to follow her, left a brilliant career as a professor in Paris. To him, great admirer of the beguines, we owe the “Life of Marie d’Oignies“(1216). Around Marie, the first historically ascertained beguinal community arose.
3/2018 Angelina da Montegiove (7-05-2018)
Many people think that in Italy a Beguinal movement never existed. Luckily we can contradict them and affirm that it was quite numerous and rather diversified, with different names (humiliate, bizzoche, pinzochere …) depending on the regions in Italy. Mario Sensi writes : “It was a varied movement … who intends to study the phenomenon comes across a gallery of irregular forms of religious life … with a mixture of aspirations for the contemplative life and reasons, socio-religious and economic, that had prevented some women from entering a monastery “(Mario Sensi,” Mulieres in Ecclesia “. Storie di monache e bizzoche, Centro Italiano di studi sull’alto medioevo, Spoleto, Spoleto, 2010, Tomo first and second p.68)
Thanks to the collaboration of Sr Anna Clotilde Filannino, profound scholar and intimate expert of Blessed Angelina da Montegiove of the Earls of Marsciano (1357-1435), herself founder of the congregation to which also Anna Clotilde belongs, we can read about an exemplary case of the Italian beguinal world. In the Who’s who of Beguines, if you select the blue name of Blessed Angelina you can read the full version of the contribution by her spiritual daughter Anna Clotilde. I sincerely thank her for sending it. Angelina da Montegiove, the last of four children of Earl Giacomo da Binolo and Alessandra Salimbeni, an orphan at a very tender age, was married in 1383 to Giovanni da Termis. Remained a widow after only a few years, she distributed all her property to the poor and later founded a “opened monastery” in Foligno, very similar to a Beguinal community that could maintain its style for a long time despite clerical pressures.
2/2018 Beginen-Reise 2018 (18-04-2018)
The “Beguines journey” that Brita Lieb and DACHVERBAND DER BEGINEN organize every year will have this year Switzerland as a destination. Why Switzerland? “Because Switzerland has had since 1998 an excellent research on the history of the Beguinal movement and because the presence of the Beguines was particularly important”, we read in the letter of invitation to partecipate. For example, in Basel in the mid-fourteenth century there were as many as 22 Beguines houses.
So, from April 29 to May 3, a large group of women will travel between Basel, Zurich, St. Gallen, Fribourg and the Lake Constance area, learning a lot about the “White Sisters”, about the sisters of the forest, about the “dance of death”, but also about the expulsion, sometimes very traumatic, suffered by the Beguines of Switzerland.
Having the privilege of participating in a part of this journey, I hope to be able to feed back to you who would have liked to join, but this time it will not be possible, because of the limited number of participants.
1/2018 “La nuit des béguines”, a new book (09-01-2018)
My dear friend Michel Wolff informs us that Aline Kiner wrote a novel ” La nuit des béguines” (The Beguines night) published by Liana Levi editor. This texte is very important because it describes the life of the beguines in the Paris beguinage at the XIVth century. I am only sending the information as received and invite someone who will read it to kindly send us a review. Here one : La nuit des béguines
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