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 :
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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
Mooie Feestdagen (30-12-2017)
To warmly conclude the very important 750th anniversary of foundation, on Sunday, December 17th, the Begijnhof of Breda organized an artistic musical event inspired by the Dutch artist Anton Pieck. In doing so the leaders and inhabitants of the Beguinage wanted to wish “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” –
We may not understand all the texts of the video https://youtu.be/ZS2cjf04urE , but we will appreciate the beautiful music and amazing images of the Breda Begijnhof and we will participate in this atmosphere of celebration and joy that this short video clip offers us.
At the Breda beguinage, all the beguinages that exist and those who are born, also those who for the moment exist only in our dreams and hopes, best wishes for a year 2018 full of great surprises.
Dieudonné Dufrasne (4-11-2017)
Dieudonné Dufrasne was born in 1938 in Cuesmes in the Belgian coalfield Borinage, in the same village where the painter Vincent Van Gogh had lived a period as a preacher of the Bible in 1878. Became a Benedictine monk in 1959 and then ordained priest in 1963, Dieudonné was one of the founders of the monastery of Clerlande where his funeral was celebrated on 27 October 2017. There, he was above all interested in liturgical renewal, but also in the animation of groups and the generous personal welcome that I also received during my research on the beguines. I met him in 1997, in preparation for the DVD “All om all“, in order to have his wise advices. His name will remain linked at the publication in 2007 of Libres et folles d’amour (Free and love’s crazy), one of the first popular works on the beguinal movement, later translated into Italian with the beautiful title “Donne moderne del Medioevo” (Modern Women of the Middle Ages). The book reveals his deep admiration for the loving boldness of the beguines and features three of them: Mechthild of Magdebourg, Hadewijch and Marguerite Porete. Dieudonné was “A man of God close to the people. His sweetness, his intelligence, his right word express how much he care to be a witness of a God who has become flesh for our joys and our pains” writes Marcela Lobo in one of the 52 commemorative texts at http://www.clerlande.com/2017/10/deces-du-pere-dieudonne Rest in peace, dear Dieudonné. Earth calls us and Heaven welcome us.
Visiting Belgian Beguinages (25-10-2017)
Belgium is the country that currently has the largest number of historical beguinages just as they developed in the old Flanders. Since 1998, 13 of them have been recognized by UNESCO world heritage of humanity (see http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/855 ). As always, in order to appreciate any historical treasure, a guide is welcome. So here there is a special one: I introduce you Mr. Graham Keen. This British man who has been living in Belgium for 40 years, when he retired 5 years ago, he discovered beguinages and since then he has become a great enthusiast of this subject. He gives lectures using his 300 photos and volunteers for visits in various beguinages. After his talk, he’s just asking for a beer. On 18 November, in collaboration with the Beguinage of Bethel, he has planned a visit to the beguinages of Malines(Mechelen). You could join this group by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (++) 32 (0) 478 104.341. Thank you, dear Graham, for your passionate presence. I also indicate below other very experienced guides: Mrs Liesbet Peeters <email@example.com> for the Turnhout beguinage Mrs Alessia Vallarsa <firstname.lastname@example.org> for the three Beguinages of Gent Mrs. Debby Van Linden <email@example.com> for various beguinages (on remuneration). I wish you good guided tours when the opportunity will come.
First of all, we welcome in the News Letter Beguines all new persons, many of whom were present at the international congress “The beguinal movement yesterday and today“, greatly organized in Breda on August 23, 2017. I myself have patiently enrolled them thanks to their email available in the distributed release that day. This congress was one of the many initiatives organized by Breda’s beguinage to honor the 750th anniversary of the foundation (1267-2017). This meeting was attended by about 140 persones, men and women from Holland of course, but also from France, Belgium, Germany and by 8 Italian women. You can see us in the picture, behind us there is the lawn of the beguinage on which once the bleached drapes were laid. By the side, even today grow aromatic and medicinal herbs. This congress has been a watershed in the history of the European beguinal movement, both for the quality of the interventions and for the first opportunity given to various European women’s communities, inspired by the historical beguinal movement, to find themselves together, to know personally each other and to exchange addresses to continue interacting. Thanks therefore to those who have made this event possible, and in particular to the President Ed Wagemakers, to the Chairman Albert Martens and to the ever-present Martin Rasenberg, as well as to all the volunteers who have translated the interventions, served coffee, prepared the room, cared for microphones and more. Thank you. Dank U.
Those who want to read the interventions can find them, in the language in which they were presented, at http://www.begijnhofbreda.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Binnenwerk_congres-2.pdf?x87368 . Some translations are already available (and others will still follow) by clicking on Jubileum 2017: http://www.begijnhofbreda.nl/internationaal-wetenschappelijk-congres
Good birthday to this beautiful beguinage and its lucky women residents.
German modern beguinal movement (04-09-2017)
A week ago, during the week-end of August 25-27, the important meeting of all modern German beguines was held once again. For years now, exactly since 2002, in the last weekend of August, this appointment, organized by their Federation marks a moment of reflection, of dialog, but also of light-hearted happiness. The theme of this year was no less than The beguinal utopia, and the underlying research was to define the frame of the utopia within the important movement of modern German beguines. We hope to receive in a short time some form of report about the many exchanges that have occurred among the more than 100 women who participated.
On the way back after the very important conference held in Breda on August 23 (about which we will say more in a forthcoming message), thanks to Brita Lieb and his son, we visited three modern beguinages: Bochum, Schwerte and Koln. In these places we have found such a lifestyle and an attitude concerning living and aging that we really felt being in a utopia in action: centrality of human relationships, respect for creation, promotion of the feminine in a feminist optics, mutual help, attention and openness to the needs of the neighbourhood. Where a spiritual dimension is strong, as in Bochum for example, the practice of overcoming historical-theological fractures, not to trite them, but to make them a stimulus to complementarity, is already a daily life. Thank you, dear beguines of Germany, for so much vitality and so much grace in the normality of daily life.
Beguines & chocolate (28-07-2017)
While we are waiting for the important colloquium “The beguinal movement, yesterday and today” which will take place in the beguinage of Breda on August 23, I’m offering to you a light and friendly info at the chocolate savour . The company Corné-Port Royal, founded in Brussels in 1932 by Maurice Corné, who already has some copyright in his famous chocolates (including Manon, with fresh cream), has put on the market small chocolates that on the packaging present known sites of Belgium. In the photo above you can see the one with the beguinage of Bruges. Not bad indeed ! By the way of chocolates and beguines, it could also happen that you will find in one of the texts of the Baci Perugina a sentence of Beatrice of Nazareth (raised in the beguine’s environment before becoming nun Cistercian) “Love Is without why “or another one of the beguine Hadewijch” In the deep waters or on the peaks, love is always the same“. The Baci Perugina chocolates with their love texts have been on the market since 1922. (see https://www.perugina.com/it/prodotti/baci in case you do not know them). Mind, this is not advertising, but the pleasure of sharing the discovery of beguine’s traces in our daily lives.
Corpus Christi Feast (03-06-2017)
Did you know that the Corpus Christi feast (Sacramentsdag in Dutch), which will be celebrated on the next June 18, was instituted in 1264 by Pope Urban IV following the vision received by Julienne of Cornillon (1193-1258)? Julienne, an orphan from a young age, was welcomed as well as her sister Agnès, in the beguinal community which was in charge of the lazaret of Mont Cornillon, near Liège (Belgium). Later on, Julienne became a Cistercian nun. The texts of the prayers and the hymns of the celebration, called “Animarum cibus” (food of the soul) are generally attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas. But US experts have recently discovered that the texts of the celebration prepared by the famous theologian are largely derived from Julienne’s work. Again the women disregarded! Thanks to the Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament of Niervaert in collaboration with the beguinage of Breda, two important initiatives will soon be organized: Thursday, June 15 from 12:00 to 17:00 in the Beguinage church of Breda will be exhibited the relics of Saint Julienne that will arrive explicitly from Retinne (Liège). Then at 8 pm, Mass will be celebrated, followed by the procession. Do you want to reserve a seat? Write to the President of the Brotherhood, our dear Martin Rasenberg: firstname.lastname@example.org
Beguinages & Cohousing (28-05-2017)
A new eBook publication is enriching the literature on the beguine’s world. The author, Milena Garavaglia, as well as collaborating in a mental health centre, is also an enthusiast of the beguinal movement and member of our News Letter (email@example.com). The opportunity to participate in Beginenreise in 2014 (The Beguines Journey in the Lower Rhine region in Germany) has enabled Milena to visit modern and medieval beguinages and to observe the experience of community life. The eBook begins to describe the living needs of women and the current search for housing formulas, with attention to neighbourhood relations and a “spiritual” feeling. Cohousing provides the framework for developing new beguinages. The modern Bochum’s beguinage is a model, and Milena illustrates it with enthusiasm. In special part of the eBook, there are information boxes: what is a beguine, which are the criteria to open a beguinage, etc., useful ideas to extrapolate for interesting life practices. In addition, there are writings of the direct protagonists, including Brita Liebe, the formidable organizer of the Beginenreise. Congratulations to Milena for the commitment and tenacity of this achievement, available and affordable at the following link : https://www.amazon.it/kindle/dp/B071L8WTD2/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_eos_det
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