Artistic resources

PAINTINGS & ICONS              SCULPTURES                  MUSICS
Margarete Porete by Hans Memling, ca. 1470
Christine Servais, Beguinage, detail
Mechthild, Hadewijch, Marguerite icons by Martina Bugada

Three paintings with beguines by Jaap Oudes (1926-1998)

Images sent in April 2019
by Jan Oud


Hadewijch, by Christine Daine, Poor Clare of Belgium

under the direction of
Hendrik Vanden Abeele

the choir Psallentes

2 CD of beguines’s musics

recorded on 2015 at Abbaye
of Keizerberg in Leuven



HADEWIJCH d’Anvers, Les chants, Éditions de Veerle Fraeters et Franck Willaert avec une reconstitution des mélodies par Louis Peter Grijp, Préface de Jacques Darras, Traduction du (moyen) néerlandais par Daniel Cunin, Albin Michel, 2019

Beguines supporters gallery

In this section are listed the biographies of the most famous admirers, and therefore also supporters, of the beguines. As for the portraits of the beguines, here too the list will be always incomplete and unachieved. The names of the both are generally written in the original language.

Let’s start by recalling that it was thanks to these men, sometimes anonymous, that we were able to know the “vitae” of the following beguines with their associated biographer:

Beguine                                                    Biographer
Marie d’Oignies (+1213)                    Jaques de Vitry  and  Thomas de Cantimpré
Odilia di Liegi (+1220)                       Anonymous priest of St Lambert of Liège
Juetta di Huy (+1228)                        Hugo di Floreffe, Premostratensian
Christine de Saint trond (+1228)   Thomas de Cantimpré
Christine de Stommeln (+1312)      Pierre de Dacie
Ida di Nivelles (+1231)                       Goswin di  Bossut, Cistercian
Ida di Leuven (+after  1231)          Anonymous Cistercian
Margherita d’Ypres (+1234)            Thomas de Cantimpré
Julienne de Mont –Cornillon (+1259) Anonynous priest of St Martin of Liège
Ida di Gorsleeuw (+after 1262)        Anonymous Cistercian
Beatrice di Nazareth (+1268)            Anonymous Cistercian
Chiara da Rimini (+1326)                   cardinal Giuseppe Garampi (+1792)
Maria Petyt (+ 1677)                             Michael de St. Augustin (+ 1684)

Here is a first list  of their admirers-protectors. Every name is linked with a short biography below :

Adolphe de la MARCK (1288-1344)

Cesarius de HEISTERBACH (1180-1240)

Dieudonné DUFRASNE(1938-2017)

ECKHART Master (ca 1260-1328)

Foulque de TOULOUSE (or de MARSEILLE) (c.1155-1231)

Gabriele Tardio (1954-2013)

Geert GROTE (or GROOTE) (1340-1384)

Goswin de BOSSUT (13th)

Guiard de CRESSONESSART ( 13th-14th)

Guido de NIVELLES (+1227)

Hugues de PIERREPONT (+ 1229)

Jacques PANTALÉON (1195-1264)

Jacques de VITRY (1170-1240)

Jan van RUUSBROEC (1293-1281) (also RUYSBROECK or RUESBROEC)

Jean de NIVELLES (+ shortly after 1219)

Lambert LE BEGUE (1131 – 1180 or 1187)

Louis IX (saint) (1214-1270)

Louis MASSIGNON (1883-1962)

Mario (don) SENSI (1939-2015)

Pierre de DACIE (between 1230-40 – 1289)

Robert de SORBON(1201-1274)

Thomas de CANTIMPRÉ (+1272)

Adolphe de la MARCK (1288-1344)
Bishop of Liège, he protects the beguines by convincing Pope John XXII and by his initiatives in their favour in his diocese. On August 13, 1318, under the pressure of generous protectors (including Bishop Adolphe de La Marck himself), John XXII by his bull “Ratio recta” deletes  the sentence promulgated six years ago against the beguines of the Netherlands and the region of Liège.

Cesarius of HEISTERBACH (1180-1240)
He was a German abbot and a writer, prior of the former Cistercian abbey of Heisterbac. Césarius spoke about the beguines in very laudatory terms, as the Walter Simons reported in his book  Cities of Ladies  (p.35) :  “Cesarius of Heisterbach, a Cistercian monk living in the region of Cologne and well informed about goings-on in Low Countries, affirmed that “Although those [holy] women, whom we known to be very numerous in the diocese of Liège, live among the people wearing lay clothes, they still surpass many of cloister in the love of God. They live the eremitical life among the crowds, spiritual among the worldly and virginal among those who seek pleasure. As their battle is greater, so is their grace, and a greater crown will await them”.

Dieudonné DUFRASNE (1938-2017)
Dieudonné Dufrasne was born in 1938 in Cuesmes in the Belgian coalfield Borinage. 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. 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.

ECKHART Master (ca 1260-1328)
Perhaps his name was John, he was born in Hochheim, in Thuringia, around 1260, in a family of the little nobility. He entered the Dominican order, held his novitiate in Erfurt, then in 1285 he was sent to the Dominican General Studium in Cologne, where Albertus Magnus (+1280) and Thomas Aquinas (+1274) had worked.
On 18 April 1294 he was in Paris as a reader of the Sentences of Pietro Lombardo, his first teaching position, under which he obtained the license for the doctorate in theology, a condition for a chair. He was also, like Thomas Aquinas, twice magister actu regens, professor at the University of Paris. His last teaching position was in Cologne. He writes in the vernacular language four treaties and about 120 sermons.
Master Eckhart was also a man of government as prior of the convent of Erfurt from 1294 to 1298 and vicar of Thuringia. In 1303, he was provincial prior of the Dominican province of Saxony, then in 1307 of the province of Bohemia. In 1324 in Strasbourg he held the post of vicar general with jurisdiction over the female monasteries of the Order of Preachers.
Himself a great preacher, he was reproached for preaching to the laity the great theological reflections in the German language. Following a challenge to his preaching by two Dominicans, slanderers and intrigues, the Archbishop of Cologne, Henry II of Virneburg, an inquisition process against Master Eckhart was initiated in 1326. For that, he appeals to the Apostolic See of Avignon, where the trial will take place, but he died in 1328 during the trip. On March 27, 1329, Pope John XXII promulgated the Bull In agro dominico, by which he condemned twenty-eight propositions drawn from Master Eckhart’s works.
Great figure of the German mysticism, during the 10 years of his mandate as Vicar General of the Dominican Order in Strasbourg, Master Eckhart protects the beguines and intervenes in their support. Later he will be a frequent visitor to the beguinage in Cologne. As Jacqueline Kelen notes in her book on Hadewijch, Master Eckhart drew many themes from the l béguinal mysticism that he later developed, such as deepening of the inner life, contemplative union without intermediaries, deification, annihilation in the One.

Foulque de TOULOUSE (or MARSEILLE) (c.1155-1231)
He was born from a Genoese family established in Marseille. After being a merchant and poet, he became a Cistercian monk, since his love for Eudoxie de Montpellier is not paid. So, in 1195, he wrote his last poem and entered the Order. He will then be a Bishop of Toulouse and will participate in the crusade against the Albigensians. Looking for refuge in Liège, he discovered the beguines who stroked him very much and who elected them as example. Taking a temporal refuge in Oignies, he insisted with Jacques de Vitry to write Marie d’Oignies’ Life, since he considered her “defensor Dei” and an effective example in the struggle against the Catharses. This is why Jacques will dedicate this work to him.

Gabriele TARDIO (1954-2013)
Gabriele  was born in San Marco in Lamis (Foggia) on 27 September 1954 and prematurely died on 18 June 2013. He worked for his land, to spread his culture, to share his faith, to give continuity to the its history. Among his works, we find several studies that refer to beguines, nuns and hermits in the areas of his knowledge and to some devotional rites typical of that context. All his studies are freely available to the public. It was an figure of reference in the scout group entrusted to him, a researcher and scholar, held in high regard by the “experts”, a man imbued with a simple but robust spirituality, which has always supported him in his life choices, has always distinguished by its active commitment to emergency situations and attention to the last, also taking care of their physical needs. Love for his origins has always brought him back to his country even after the novitiate in Assisi and his stay in Teora among the earthquake victims and the displaced people of the terrible earthquake of the 80s. Having settled in the family home, near Stignano, he continued, as his friends in the “Valley of Hermitages“, to make history with “his feet” through each path that could lead him to understand and find a piece of the puzzle of our culture.
Particular attention was devoted to the study of the tradition of “fracchie” that he lived as a true moment of devotion to the Sorrowful Mother and as a ring of continuity between the different generations of this people. He has made numerous publications available to everyone free of charge. In fact, he wrote: “culture is free, priceless … research serves to stimulate other knowledge, so those who want to get rich give us some of their knowledge“. (source :


Geert GROTE (1340-1384)
Canon and notable in the Dutch city of Deventer, Geert Grote knew very well the world of the beguines and most probably he took inspiration for the foundation of the Devotio Moderna, a movement – the brothers and sisters of the common life – for a poor, personal and secular Christianity which was very successful in Belgium, Holland and West Germany, This movement is considered one of the anticipations of the Reformation. The Devotio Sisters had the term beguine as their nickname, but unlike these, they lived in community of goods (Charles Caspers, Breda, 2017).
Grote had great esteem for the beguines who, though not pronouncing their perpetual vows, lived in evangelical simplicity and were certainly not less religious than the clergy.

Goswin de BOSSUT (13th)
Cistercian of the abbey of Villers, he is the alleged author of the Life of Ida of Nivelles and perhaps of other beguines’ biographies. In fact, intense contacts, informal and non-institutional, existed between the monks of Villers and the beguines of the area of Nivelles-Oignies.

Guiard de CRESSONESSART (13th-14th)
Cleric of the diocese of Beauvais, he was imprisoned in 1308 and sentenced to life in prison in 1310 for having helped and defended Marguerite Porete. Romana Guarnieri writes about him: “A strenuous defender of ‘apostolic life’, he declares himself sent by Christ to support and save those faithfuls who have given everything and live in perfect poverty, and for this they are persecuted

Guido de NIVELLES (+1227)
Priest, brother-in-law of Marie d’Oignies, Guido was the chaplain of the leper colony of Willambroux, when Marie and her husband were also there. Later he practiced in the chapel of the adjacent beguinal community until his death in 1227.

Hugues de PIERREPONT (+1229)
Prince bishop of Liege from 1200 to 1229, he welcomes and promotes in his diocese the female penitential movement, of which Marie d’Oignies is one of the best known figures.

Jacques PANTALÉON (1195-1264)
Archdeacon of Liège, he was a great admirer of Julienne, the beguine-recluse of Mont-Cornillon, and later Augustinian nun, who, following a vision, promoted the Corpus Christi Feast. He will support her with Robert de Thourotte, the Bishop of Liège. When then he became Pope himself, Urban IV (1261-64), with his 1264 Bull “Transiturus de hoc mundo“, will officially formalize this feast and set it aside for the whole Church.

Jacques de VITRY (1170-1240)
A native of Vitry-sur-Seine (Reims), parish priest d’Argentueil, «magister parisiensis», canonical regular in Saint Nicolas d’Oignies, Archbishop of Acre (1216), auxiliary of the Bishop-Prince of Liège, Cardinal Bishop of Frascati (1228), he died in Rome in 1240. He accompanied the Crusaders in the siege of Damietta (1218).
A great defender of the beguines, he helped to support them and to make them recognized by ecclesiastical authority. Jacques de Vitry was struck by the figure of Marie d’Oignies, about whom he wrote a “Vita” in view of her beatification. He left Paris, where he was a teacher of theology: “Tired of dry studies and worldliness and thirsty for inner life, he ended up settling near her (Marie) as a canon of the small and poor Augustinian priory” (Romana Guarnieri, Donne e chiesa tra mistica e istituzioni,, p.76). Deeply struck by her wisdom, he gave up teaching to become a humble itinerant preacher. From now on Marie will be the inspirer of all his sermons. For Jacques, women like Marie could save Christianity from heresy.

He frequented the beguinal environment very closely, as his mother spent the last few years in the Brussels beguinage, after leaving the village of Ruysbroeck in order to be close to her son who was becoming a priest at the St. Gudule Cathedral in Brussels. Ruusbroec himself assumes the spiritual guidance of a community of beguines in Brussels. After 20 years of parish service, he retired to Groenendal with two other companions to live a more contemplative life. “When we refer to those times, the foundation of Goenendal may appear as something else from the desire for a spiritual life away from parochial concerns and assignments. It was to take the right path between the corruption of the clergy and the unruliness of the madmen of love breaking with the Church “(Claude-Henri Rocquet, p.45)
In fact, as Ruusbroec expresses himself in his Del tabernacolo spirituale: “Look at the princes of the Church and tell me if they are good shepherds. Their palaces are full of servants. From them greatness and power abound, wealth of the world. Their table collapses with dishes and nectar, their closets and their trunks are full of precious clothes and jewels, they have in abundance all the most magnificent is offered by the earth. But they never get enough and the more they receive, the more they want. They are similar to the miserable world hungry for earthly goods because it does not have the taste of God “.
Many traits of his spirituality are of beguinal origin. Paul Verdeyen affirms that “he had to be greatly influenced by the writings of the beguine Hadewijch and we can even say that Ruusbroec and his brothers have “saved” the literary posterity of Hadewijch. In fact, anyone who knows the history of women’s writings of this era, knows that the beguine Hadewijch had to cope with numerous problems“. Sweet, humble, luminous, solitary, in the fifteenth century the Carthusian Denys nicknamed him the Admirable for the depth and quantity of his works written in the mother tongue, the thiois, the old Flemish.
A very different view of  Ruusbroec is given by Jacqueline Kelen who reproaches him for having “expropriated” Hadewijch without having mentioned her even once.
(Sources: Les activités de Ruusbroec à Bruxelles, Paul VERDEYN sj lecture on 14 February 1998 – Claude-Henri ROQUET, Petite vie de Ruysbrouck, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 2003 – Jacqueline KELEN, Hadewijch d’Anvers ou la voie glorieuse, Albin Michel, 2011).

Jean de NIVELLES (+ shortly after 1219)
An important figure in the ecclesiastical environment of Liège, he later retired to the monastery of Oignies, between 1215 and 1219. He had considerable influence on the development of the first nucleus of beguines in Liège, without being the founder. Jacques de Vitry said of him that he was light, teacher and spiritual father of the entire diocese.

Lambert LE BÈGUE (1131 – 1180 or 1187)
He was a priest of Liege from which some have erroneously derived the name of “beguine”, while it would be more correct to suppose that the epithet “Le Bègue” was attributed for his protection towards the beguines. He was also considered the founder of the beguinal movement following an idea emerged in the clerical environment around 1250 to assert the male prominence. According to Professor D’Haenens, the epithet Bègue would be written Bège and would allude to the rough wool dress brought by Lambert and his disciples. He was arrested, mistreated and imprisoned in the castle of Revogne-lez-Rochefort, then taken to prison in Rome because his preaching against the scandals and simony of the Church of Liege. It seems that he had sent a critical text to Pope Callistus III – the Antigraphum Petri (the defence of Peter) – in which he denounced the laxity of the priests. At that time, many clerics lived openly with their spouses.
The vernacular translation of the Acts of the Apostles (translated in rhyme so that the illiterate people could memorize them more easily), of some texts of the New Testament and of Lives of Saints, among them that of Saint Agnes, caused him a sentence and prison. But rehabilitated by Pope Callistus III to whom he had sent an apology in his defence, he returned to Liège where he died a short time later (in 1180 or 1187 according to the sources). Shortly before his death, he would have built a church in Saint Christophe at his own expense and some small houses to welcome women who wanted to live under his direction, away from the world or, as others say, a retreat house for single women, widows of the crusaders. (Sources: J.Delmelle, Lemmens, pp. 103-105, Simons)

Louis IX (saint) (1214-1270)
He became king of France at the age of 12. He lead two crusades (VII and VIII). In 1260 he founded the great Beguinage of Paris, which he placed directly under his protection and entrusted the first direction to a Flemish «Magistra», Agnès de Orchies. This beguinage, which will be closed in 1471, could host about 400 women, widows or unmarried young ladies.

Louis MASSIGNON (1883-1962)
Orientalist and French theologian, great scholar of Islam and in particular of its mysticism, he was very impressed by the beguine Christine of Sint Truiden (+1224). He considers her as a saint while Pius IX (in 1857) institutes her like Blessed. At the invitation of Fr.Van Straeten, rector of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, that preserves the relics of Saint Chistine and serve in the sanctuary of Steenart, Louis Massignon prepares a study and a conference for Thursday 24 July (the day of her death) 1924, in the 7th centenary of her death. This text will then be published in La Cité chrétienne and in 1950 in a tribute volume. The figure of Christine hits Massignon on different levels, personal and spiritual. In Gedenkboek published in 1950 we read: “L.Massignon professor at the Collège de France, who in 1924, on the occasion of the 7th centenary of the death of St. Christine, had asked to be able to glorify the saint in gratitude for the grace of his conversion which he attributes to our virgin of Sint Truiden “(p.350). On the scientific and spiritual level, the text presents the Massignon’s reflection on the themes of substitution, the reparative oblation of “special victims” and allows him to “argue” on the themes of miracles and supernatural phenomena. (Source: MASSIGNON Louis, Ecrits mémorables, Tome I, Laffont, Paris, 2009)

Mario SENSI (1939 – 2015)
Born in Assisi in 1939, he was ordained a priest in 1963 and soon after was appointed parish priest of Colfiorito. Doctor of theology (1967) and then Doctor of Philosophy (1970), in October 1988, he was appointed professor of Church History at the Pontifical Lateran University, becoming, in 2002, professor of History of the ancient and medieval Church. Since October 2009 he has been professor emeritus. It has brought out in the history many beguinal communities of Central Italy with a meticulous expertise. To him we owe the most complete monographs of these experiences, arose from “ a solitary, slow, silent and tireless study” as Romana Guarnieri, his great friend, had to say. The work, in two volumes, which sums it up is “Mulieres in Ecclesia. Storie di monache e bizzzoche”, Italian Center of Studies on the High Middle Ages, Spoleto, 2010
Since the 1960s, Mario Sensi, then a twenty-year-old seminarian, came across the beguines of the thirteenth century and explored various parish and diocesan archives, “bringing out a dense landscape from the thick fog, inhabited by a crowd of minor female figures … all these linked by a moving “gender” solidarity, attested by countless wills, left by wealthy women in favour of other women poorer than them, both of then being pious“(Guarnieri, p.408). In Umbria they were many. Don Sensi was also a dynamic animator of the ecclesiastical archival association.

Pierre de DACIE (between 1230/40 – 1289)
He is one of the most important writers in the Latin language of Swedish literature. Pierre was born in Visby (Island of Gotteland) between 1230-1240. Around 1250, he entered as a novice in the convent of the friar preachers of his hometown (the term “Dominicans” will be in use only from the sixteenth century), where he pronounced his vows. He is of a neurasthenic temperament, with a personality dedicated to the rigor of the Dominican discipline. The meeting with the beguine Christine de Stommeln in 1267 in Cologne, where he finished his studies at the Studium founded by Alberto Magno, will upset his spiritual life.
On December 20, 1267, introduced by his brother Walter, he went to visit this beguine who knows ecstasy, hallucinations and stigmata. Between 1267 and 1269, Pierre meets Christine 13 times and then goes to study in Paris near Thomas Aquinas, where he will stay more than a year and from there he will begin a correspondence that will end only at his death. On his return from Paris he meets Christine for the 14th time on 29 of September 1270. He returns to Sweden where he teaches philosophy and theology and will be prior in various monasteries. Taking advantage of a trip to Cologne, where he went for his heart problems, he will make a 15th visit to Christine and will try to take her to Sweden on three occasions.
A final visit will take place in 1287 on his return from the general chapter of Bordeaux. In 1288 his health diminishes. He dies during Lent in 1289. Christine survived him for 23 years. Peter wrote Christine’s Life, made reports of his visits and collected 38 of their letters (those of Christine are dictated to her confessors).
The relationship with Christine helped him to overcome his natural melancholy and to express a form of lyricism, more inspired by the psalms than by the poetry. Ernest Renan was interested in this “monastic idyll”, a jewel of spiritual friendship.

Robert de SORBON (1201-1274)
He was born in a peasant family in a small Ardennes village. He studied to become a priest, was promoted a doctor and provided a rectory in the church of Cambrai. His sermons and lectures earned him a good reputation and King (Saint) Louis IX chose him as chaplain and perhaps as a confessor. He is the founder of the Sorbonne where laymen who study theology can be relieved of material difficulties. The Aline Kiner’s novel La nuit des beguines tells us that Robert de Sorbon kept sermons in the great beguinage in Paris and defended the beguines. The historian Grundmann writes that “In the middle of the 13th century, at the University of Paris, two theologians were teaching close to each other: one, Robert de Sorbon, saw the Beguines and the Papelards as particularly pious people, who for their authentic and fervent piety they were despised and mocked by the supporters of a worldly life; the other William of Saint Amour, fanatical opponent of the whole poverty movement, hurled his vehement insults and his insinuations full of mockery against the Beguines and the Papelards “(Grundmann, Religious Movements in the Middle Ages, Il Mulino, 1974 p.339 )

Thomas de CANTIMPRE (+1272)
Younger of one generation of Jacques de Vitry, Thomas de Cantimpré was born in Bellingen in the Flemish Brabant (south of Brussels) around 1200. Son of a noble family, destined to become a priest, at 6 he was sent to the Abbey of Cantimpré where he attended up to his 17 years
the courses of the capitular school of the cathedral. He will be officially integrated into this community of regular canons and will receive priestly ordination in 1223. The entry of Thomas among the Dominicans in 1232 marks a new stage: he takes the habit in the convent of Leuven where he will almost always live, except for short stays in Paris, Trier and Cologne. Following the Dominican spirit, he immediately resumed his studies: in Cologne with St. Thomas Aquinas and Albert the Great, in Paris in the convent of Saint-Jacques. In 1246 he returned to Leuven where he served as a sub-prior and as a reader, then as a general preacher for a large region covering part of Germany, Belgium and France. Bilingual preacher, he travels Flanders from east to west and also France to preach against the Albigensians. He died on May 15, no doubt around 1270-1272. To him we owe various hagiographies of beguines (Béatrice de Nazareth, Christine de St Trond, Marguerite d’Ypres, le supplément à la Vie de Marie d’Oignies …). But his most famous work is The Book of Bees, a treatise on religion and practical morality in the framework of an allegory on bees. There are elements of anthropology, zoology, botany, mineralogy, astronomy, astrology and meteorology.

Beguines gallery

In Breda beguinage

Whether they are famous or not, in this repertoire all the beguines I’ve encountered are here mentioned. We want to pay tribute to all these weavers of the beguinal movement.

Sometimes the traits of their vocation are inaccurate or may change with time, because life itself is modifiable and the beguinal choice offers multiple ways of living. In addition, lay and religious elements intertwine in beguinal life, and ecclesiastical pressures are not absent

A short biography of each of them is (will be) presented and whenever possible a blue link refers to a wider description of their life. I have written in red the traits that allow us to include them among the beguines or near the beguinal movement. Some biographies have been prepared by other scholars whom I thank for their generous collaboration. In this case, their name is mentioned.

Both traditional and modern beguines, but only the dead ones, are remembered, because they all belong to the same history. The list will always be incomplete because the memory is still being reconstructed, but with the women whom we find here, we are really in good company.
Here they are:

Agnès d’ANTHÉE (14th)

Agnes BLANNBEKIN (c.1244-1315)

Agnès d’ORCHIES (13th)

Aleydis VAN KAMERIJK ( CAMBRAI) (+1235)

Alyt BAKE ( 1415-1455 )

Angela da FOLIGNO (1248-1309

Angelica BONFANTINI (+1244)

Angelina di MONTEGIOVE (1357-1435) (o di MARSCIANO)

Angioletta di RIGNANO (16th)

Anna VAN SCHRIECK (Anversa, + 1688)

Anna CORDEY (Dienst and Leuven +1720)

Beatas de LLERENA (16th)

Béatrice de NAZARETH (+/-1200-1268)


Catalina GUIERA (15th)

Caterina da BOLOGNA (1413-1463)

Caterina da GENOVA (1447-1510)

Cecilia FERRAZZI (1609 – 1684)

Chiara da MONTEFALCO (1268-1308)

Chiara da RIMINI (1280-1326)

Christina EBNER (1277-1356)

Christine COUCKE (15th)

Christine van SINT-TRUIDEN (+/- 1160-1224)-The Astonishing

Christine van STOMMELN (1242-1312)

Clusin or Claesinne NIEUWLANT (Gent, + 1611)

Colette de CORBIE or BOYLET (1381-1447)

Cornelia Catherina FRIJTERS (+1990)

Criste TSFLOGHELEERE (15th )

Cristina van MARKYATE (ca.1096-1154)

Dorothée de MONTAU (1347-1394)

Douceline de DIGNE (+/-1214/15 et 1274)

Elisabeth HUNGARY or of THURINGIA (1207-1231)

Elisabeth de SPALBEEK (1246–1304)

Elizabeth van BERG (13th)

Eve de SAINT MARTIN (1190-1265)

Francesca ROMANA in the world Ceccolella BUSSI  (+1440),

Gertrude RICKELDEYof ORTENBERG (+ 1335) and Heilke of STAUFENBERG (+ after 1335).

Gertrude VAN HELFTA (+ 1302)

Gertrude VAN  OOSTEN or DELFT (+ 1358)

HADEWIJCH (+1250 ca)


Ida van LEEUW o GORSLEEUW (+/- + 1260)

Ida de LOUVAIN (+ 1290 ca)

Ida de NIVELLES (1197-1232)

Ingrid di SKÄNNINGE (1220-1282)

Isabelle DEWIT (18th)

Ivana CERESA (1942-2009)

Ivette ou Jutta de HUY (1157-1228)

Jeanne d’ARC (1412-1431)

Joan d’ANTHÉE (14th)

Julienne de CORNILLON (1193-1258)

Julian of NORWICH  (1342 – 1413)


Katherina VANDER HULST (15th)

KATREI Sister (14th)

Linke DOBBE (16th)

Lutgarde de TREVES (+1231)

Lydwine van SCHIEDAM (1380-1433)

Marcella PATTIJN (1920- 2013)

Marcella VAN  HOECKE (1908-2008)

MARCELLINA Sister (at the world Carolina SOLIMANDO) (20th)

Margherita di CORTONA (1247-1297)

Marguerite d’ARLON (+1414)

Marguerite PORETE (+1310)

Marguerite d’YPRES (+1237)

Marì DIAZ (circa 1490-1572)

Maria di AJOFRIN (XV)

Maria DAVILA (+ 1511)

Maria GARCÍA (1340-1426)

Maria LEPORINI (1951-2015)

Maria PETYT (1623-1677)

Maria de TOLEDO (1437- after 1484)


Maria Bendetta di CARIGNANO and Maria Angela CANAL (15th)

Marie de GREZ (+1271)

Marie d’OIGNIES (1177-1213)


Mechthild von MAGDEBURG (1208/10 – 1282)

Metza von WESTENHOVE (+ 1366)

Odile de LIÈGE (+1220)

Philippinne de PORCELLET  (13th)

Rita da CASCIA (1381-1457)

RIXENDA (13th)

Romana GUARNIERI (1913-2004)

Sofia del fu BARTOLO (13th)


Uda (or Oda) da THOREMBAIS (13th)

Umiliana DEI CERCHI (1219-1246)

Umiltà di FAENZA (1226-1310)

Ysabiaus de WARLAING (14th)

Abbaye de Fontevraud

On the web

Information sources available on the web, classified by the following 5 categories: 

 1 Articles and books
2 Blog & Facebook & Twitter
3 Information web sites
4 Podcast
5 Videos


You also might contribute to improve this list, by sending other more bibliography references to:

1 Articles and books (in descending chronological order)

Melissa Febos, They Used to Be Places Just for Women. Now They’re UNESCO World Heritage Sites, AFAR, 8 March 2024

Daniela Blum, Corporal Relationship, Corporal Conformation: Female Forms of Following Christ around 1200, Technical University of Aachen (RWTH Aachen University), conference in Female Corporeality and Religion.
Center for Women’s Studies in Theology, Leuven, June 2023

Anita Prati, Morire per un libro: Margherita Porete, in Settimana News, May 2023

Dominique Costermans, Béguines et béguines. Des femmes qui ont marqué l’histoire de la Chrétienté, L’Appel juin 2022

Huanan LU, Le béguinage Ste-Élisabeth à Valenciennes (XIIIe-XIVe siècles), Doctoral thesis in History and Civilizations, under the supervision of Sylvain Piron., defended on 30-09-2021 in Paris, EHESS, as part of the Doctoral School of the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences.
Online consultation here

Veerle Fraeters, Hadewijch and the Beguine Movement, thanks to Academia

Elena Botinas Montero e Julia Caballero Manzanedo, Le beghine. Libertà in relazione,  2004-2008 Duoda, Centro di Ricerca delle Donne. Università di Barcellona.

Medievalist Tanya Stabler Miller presents and frames Aline Kiner’s book “La nuit des béguines 2017/ , March 1, 2020

Abby STONER , Sister BetweenGender and the Medieval Beguines, (date not defined)

Line KORTOBI has published two very interesting articles in the Libération newspaper in July 2019:

Apolline Vranken,  Des béguinages à l’architecture féministe. Comment interroger et subvertir les rapports de genre matérialisés dans l’habitat ?
thesis of Master 2 in architecture, Prix de l’Université des Femmes, 2018

AAVV, Beguinal movement yesterday and today , speeches in various languages presented at the international congress of 23/08/2017, celebrating the 750th anniversary of  Breda beguinage

Milena GARAVAGLIA, Cohousing al femminile, Abitare nei beghinaggi moderni, e-book, Amazon, 2017

Paul Marchal , DE DUITSE BEGIJNENBEWEGING IN DE MIDDELEEUWEN, (2016) (notified by Graham Keen)

Kelly Lynn Morris, The vita of Douceline de Digne (1214-1274): Beguine spirituality and orthodoxy in thirteenth century Marseilles, University of Cagary (Canada), July 2001

E.T, Knuth, The Beguines, 1992, in

2 Blog & Facebook & Twitter

Béguinage de Sainte Barbe

Sisters of Valley



3 Information web sites

A new folder of the Petit béguinage d’ ANDERLECHT after restoration achieved on 2023

 UNESCO website of the 13 Flemish béguinages in the  World Heritage List

Le jardin du béguinage

Le petit béguinage de La Lauzelle
Interview sur le Petit béguinage réalisée avec l’aide d’Evelyne Simoens

Begijnhof van Turnhout (notified by M. Hugo Vanden Bossche)

Marcella Pattiyn, the last historical beguine


Agence Vivre en béguinage
La Maison des babayagas
The association Mémoires d’elles (Memoirs of them)


BEGINE – Treffpunkt und Kultur für Frauen e. V. –
Beginenhof in Berlin : Frauenwohnen im 21. Jahrhundert
Beginenhot Tännich


Begijnhof van Breda :


Metter in ordine la differenza: l’esperienza della Sororità di Mantova,
Nel giardino delle beghine

Other in the world in German language, really not up to date, that collects experiences of women living together in various places in the world

Sisters of Valley
Giovanni Drogo, Sister of the Valley
information in English about Beguines, old and new, especially in USA

4 Podcast

RST 30-minute podcast Béguinages, Solidarités, Pèlerinages,shared on December 17th 2023 on channel 1 of the Swiss radio and television. The journalist Matthieu Wirz met the beguines of the beguinage of St Martin du Lac

BBC (radio Four) podcast (1 hour) dedicated to Julian of Norwich, interviews several people who are scholars of this recluse. (notified by Graham Keen)

Rita Fenendael, Béguinages d’hier et d’aujourd’hui (October 3th 2022)

Dominique Costermans : Béguines et béguinages (dossier mag L’Appel) 30th May 2022 on RCF Bruxelles

5 Videos

The Hadewijch’s songs, presentation of the integral edition made by Francesca Barresi,  with medieval music played by Murmur Mori, Fondazione Lercaro, Bologna, 16th January 2024

Beghinaggi le sacre case delle libere donne – reportage of Devana daughter of Liliana for La Scuola delle Donne® – September 2023
Video in Italian available since 1/9
text Beghinaggi le sacre case delle libere donne
Video in Italian with English subtitles available since 2/9
Text Beguinages the sacred houses of the free women-1

L’identità delle beghine storiche (The Identity of the Historical Beguines) by Silvana Panciera.  10th June 2023 in Mantua in Il giardino delle beghine. It answered the question what aspects define the identity of the historical beguines.

Le Beghine-  Talk with Adriana Valerio and Silvana Panciera,
managed by Gabrielli Editori, on October 19th, 2022

François Marxer
Hadewijch d’Anvers ou le secret du monde (1)
Hadewijch d’Anvers ou le secret du monde (2)
The Petit Béguinage de la Lauzelle 25 years after its foundation in 1995.
Video (26 minutes) in French by Virginie Breda (2021)

Les béguines, libres et folles d’amour par le Béguinage de la Croix aux boeufs, sur des textes de Jacqueline Kelen (2019)
La spiritualité au feminin, les beguines (2017)

The Beguines by Silvana Panciera


Paper texts

Articles  and books in alphabetic order by author. If a link is related to the title, thus a short synthesis or the entire text are available.

You also might contribute to improve this list, by sending other more bibliography references to:

sr Felicitas, Beguinage of Bruges
A  B  C  D   E   F   G  H I+J+K  L M   N   O   P  Q+R   S   T   U  V+W+Y Z

AAVV, Béguines et béguinages, Archives générales du Royaume, dossier éducatif, 1ère série n.12, Bruxelles, 1994

AAVV, sous la direction d’A.Vauchez, Histoire du chistianisme, Tome 5, Desclée de Brouwer,Paris, 1993

AAVV, Trésors des béguinages, Snoeck-Ducaju et fils, Gand, 1961

AAVV, Un monde de femmes indépendantes. Du XIIe siècle à nos jours. Les béguinages flamands, Guide Luciole pour voyageurs intelligents, Riverside, 2003

AAVV, Het geschrevene blijft. Het archief van het Begijnhof Breda, Begijnhof Breda 2017

AAVV, Leven tussen’t Klooster en de Wereld, Begijnhof Breda, 2017

BARA ocso Wendelein, Hadewijch di Anversa: una vita dedicata all’amore , in La Scala, n° 70; 3 / Luglio – settembre 2016; pagine 157-166.

BARTOLOMEI-ROMAGNOLI Alessandra, DEGL’INNOCENTI Antonella, SANTI Francesco, Scrittrici mistiche europee, Edizioni del Galluzzo, Firenze, 2015

BARTOLOMEI-ROMAGNOLI Alessandra, Mistici e mistica domenicana, pp.351-387, in FESTAGianni e RAININI Marco (a cura di), L’ordine dei Predicatori. I Domenicani : storia, figure e istituzioni (1216-2016), Editori Laterza, 2016

BARTOLOMEI ROMAGNOLI Alessandra, CORPO SACRO. Scrittura ed esperienza mistica tra medioevo e età moderna, Fondazione Centro italiano di studi sull’alto medioevo, Spoleto, 2022, pp. 857

BAUMER-DESPEIGNE Odette, Le mouvement béguinal au XIIIe siècle en Belgique, Frauenfeld – Suisse, 1987, texte polycopié

BEATRICE de Nazareth, 7 degrés d’amour, Ed.Claude Martingay, Génève, 1972.

BEATRICE de Nazareth, I sette modi di amare Dio. Via di Beatrice, edizioni Paoline,2016

BLASUCCI A., CALATI B., GREGOIRE R., La spiritualità del medievo, volume 4 della Storia della spiritualità, Borla

BLUM Daniela, Corporal Relationship, Corporal Conformation. Female forms of following Christ around 1200, in Female Corporeality and Religion, KU Leuven, 1-3 June 2023 (thanks to the very kind author)

BOUCKAERT Claude, De laatste der begijnen, Uitgeverij Groeninghe, Kortrijk, 2000


COMMODI Bernardo, Beata Angelina da Monegiove, Editrice Velar, Gorle, 2014

CRÉ Marleen,  The Mirror of Simple Souls, in Middle English Revisited: M.N. and the compiler of London, Westminster Cathedral Treasury, MS 4

DE DACIE Pierre, La vie de Christine de Stommeln, suivie de Lettres de Pierre et de Christine, William Blake and Co., 2005

DE JAEGHER Paul, s.j., Anthologie mystique, Desclée De Brouwer, Paris, 1933

DELHEZ Charles (sous la direction de), Collection “Sur la route des saints”  Julienne  De  Cornillon, Ed Fidélité, Namur,1996

DELLA CROCE Giovanna, I mistici del nord, Ed.Studium, Roma, 1981

DELMELLE Joseph, Abbayes et béguinages, Rossel édition, BXL, l973

De VITRY Jacques, Vie de Marie d’Oignies, avec supplément de Thomas Cantimpré, traduction et préface par André Wankenne, Société des études classiques, Namur, 1989

d’HAENENS Albert (avec une équipe du Centre de recherche sur la communication en histoire de l’UCL), Béguinages de Belgique, Ed.Belgique points ARTIS.

DINZEBACHER Perter – BAUER Dieter R. (a cura di), Movimento religioso e mistica femminile nel Medioevo,  Ed. Paoline, 1993

DUFRASNE Dieudonné, Donne moderne del Medioevo, Jacabook, 2009; Libres et folles d’amour, éd. Thomas Mols, Bierges, 2007

DUTHOIT BERTRAND Douceline , Traces du féminin dans l’image de Dieu. Dieu peut-il se dire au féminin ?, Mémoire présenté auprès de l’Institut Supérieur de Théologie des Arts, Paris, juillet 2023

FEVERATI LuciaTra successo e sospetto. Le beghine nell’Europa del duecento e trecento, Tesi di laurea di primo ciclo, Facoltà di storia e beni culturali della Chiesa, Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 2018-2019

FESTA Gianni e RAININI Marco (a cura di), L’ordine dei Predicatori. I Domenicani : storia, figure e istituzioni (1216-2016), Editori Laterza, 2016

FICHE et MARTIN, L’histoire de l’Église, Tome 9, Blond & Gay, 1946

FILANNINO Anna Clotilde,  La Contessa con gli zoccoli. Angelina da Montegiove nobile, penitente e francescana, Edizioni Porziuncola, Assisi, 2006 (prefazione di Mario Sensi)

FOZZER Giovanna, Nello specchio di Margherita, Firenze, 2001

FRAETERS Veerle, Hadewijch and the Beguine Movement, (thanks to

GALASSO Giuseppe e Adriana VALERIO (a cura di), Donne e religione a Napoli. Secoli XVi-XVIII, Franco Angeli. 2001, in particolare il testo di Giuliana BOCCADAMO, Monache di casa e monache di conservatorio, p139-191

GIULIANA  Di  Norwich, Libro delle rivelazioni, Ancora, Milano, 2003

GRUNDMANN, H. Movimenti religiosi nel Medioevo, Il Mulino, Bologna 1980

GUARNIERI Romana (a cura di), Il movimento del Libero Spirito. Testi e documenti, Edizioni di storia e letteratura, Roma, 1965, pp. 708

GUARNIERI Romana, Amiche mie, beghine, in Ruah, Il femminile di Dio, Piccola biblioteca Millelire, n.14, Stampa alternativa

GUARNIERI Romana, Pinzochere, Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione 6 (1980), 1721-49

GUARNIERI Romana, Donne e chiesa tra mistica e istituzioni (secoli XIII-XV), Edizioni di storia e letteratura, Roma, 2004 (pp.417)

GUIDUCCI Armanda, Medioevo inquieto, Sansoni Editori, Firenze, 1990

HADEWIJCH d’Anvers, Ecrits mystiques des Béguines, Ed.Seuil,Paris, l954

HADEWIJCH d’Anvers, Lettres spirituelles, Ed Claude Martingay, Genève,1972

HADEWIJCH d’Anvers, Les Lettres. La perle de l’école rhéno-flamande, traduites etprésentées par Paul-Marie Bernard, Le Sarment, 2002

HADEWIJCH d’Anvers, Visions, Collection Les deux rives, O.E.I.L.,  Paris, 1987 ; HADEWIJCH d’Anvers, Les Visions, traduction, présentation et notes de Georgette Epiney-Burgard, éditions Ad.Solem, Genève, 2000

HADEWIJCH d’Anversa, Lettere. Dio amore e amante. Traduzione dal mediolandese di Rocco Berardi, Cinisello Balsamo (Milano), Edizioni Paoline, 1986.

HADEWIJCH d’ANVERSA, Poesie, visioni, lettere, scelte e tradotte da Romana Guarnieri, Marietti Editore, 2000

Hadewijch : The Complete Works (Classical of Western Spirituality), translation by Mother Columba Hart OSB, preface by Paul Mommaers, S.J, 1980

HADEWIJCH d’Anvers, Les chants, Éditions de Veerle Fraeters et Franck Willaert avec une reconstitution des mélodies par Louis Peter Grijp, Préface de Jacques Darras, Traduction du (moyen) néerlandais par Daniel Cunin, Albin Michel, 2019

HADEWIJCH di Anversa, I canti, tradotti da Francesca Barresi con la collaborazione di Lorenzo Nespoli e prefazione di Chiara Frugoni, prima edizione italiana integrale, Marietti, 2022, 240 pag.

HARVEY Andrew(translated by), Love is Everything. A year with Hadewijch of Antwerp, Matthew Fox (Foreword), Laurence Freeman (Foreword), 2022

HOORNAERT  R.(Chanoine), Ce que c’est qu’un béguinage, Desclé de Brouwer, 1921

HOORNAERT  R.(Chanoine), La plus ancienne règle du béguinage de Bruges, Ed.De Plancke, Bruges, l930

HOORNAERT  R.(Chanoine), Le béguinage princier de Bruges, le passé, le présent, Ed. de la vigne, Bruges, 1938

JOIN-LAMBERT, Arnaud, Des béguinages familiaux au 21e siècle en Belgique, in K. DEMASURE (dir.), Vivre ensemble. Un défi pratique pour la théologie. Namur, Lumen Vitae, 2014, pp. 223-239.

KELEN Jacqueline, Hadewijch d’Anvers ou la voie glorieuse, Albin Michel, 2011

KINER Aline, The mirror of simple souls, translation of La nuit des béguines , by  Susan Emanuel, with an  Introduction by Tanya Stabler Miller,
Pushkin press, 2024

LAFITTE Serge, Les béguines. Insoumises de l’amour divin, dans Le monde des religions, mai-juin, 2007

LELOUP Jean-Yves, Les dits de la femme qui brûle. Marguerite Porete, Ed. Almora, 2018

LEMMENS Joseph, Une révolution du monachisme en Belgique, XIIIe-XVIIe siècles, Le cri histoire, Bruxelles, 2009, (chpitre IV : les Béguines et les Beguins)

LES BÉGUINES, Dossier, dans Lumière & Vie, janvier-mars 2013

LESGRETAIN Claire, L’étonnante modernité des béguinages, La Croix, 12 –12-2002

LIEB Brita Begine, Beginen und die werke der Barmherzigkeit, Parzellers Buchverlag, Fulda, 2016

LU Huanan, Le béguinage de Ste-Élisabeth à Valenciennes (XIIIe – XIVe siècles), Thèse de doctorat en Histoire et civilisation, École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 2021, p.426

MAISONNEUVE Roland, L’univers visionnaire de Julian of Norwich, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1987

MASSIGNON Louis, Ecrits mémorables, Tome I, Laffont, Paris, 2009

McDONNEL Ernest W., The Beguines and Beghards in Medieval Culture: With Special Emphasis on the Belgian Scene, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1954

McGINN Bernard, Margherita Porete, erotica e dama d’amore, Marietti 1820, Genova, 2017

MAES Pierre, Les béguinages, dans Trésors des béguinages, Catalogue de l’exposition au Musée des Beaux  Arts à Gand,  avril – juin 1961, édité par Snoeck-Ducaju, Gand, l96l.

MAETERLINCK Maurice, L’ornement des noces spirituelles de Ruysbroeck l’admirable, Les éperonniers, Bruxelles, 1990.

MJERUS Pascal, Le Béguinage flamand: où l’esprit se fait pierre,  Lumière et vie, janvier-mars 2013, p. 47-64

MAJERUS Pascal, Fondateur ou formateur ? Maître Guidon et l’établissement des proto-béguines à Nivelles, dans Revue d’histoire religieuse du Brabant-Wallon, Tome 12, 1998

MAJERUS Pascal, A l’ombre des enclos béguinaux, Revue d’histoire religieuse du Braban wallon, 13, 1999, 2, p.144-151.

MAJERUS Pascal, Les béguinages de Belgique : Au délà du mythe Bulletin de Dexia banque, 2000/3 , p.33-53.

MAJERUS Pascal, Ces femmes qu’on dit béguines. Guides des béguinages de Belgique, Bibliographie et sources d’archives, Archives Générales du Royaume, 1997, Tomes 1 et 2

MARCHAL Paul, De begijnen een Europees Verhaal. 800 jaar begijnen in Europa, Ed.Vrienden van het begijnhof van Turnhout vzw, 2020, pag. 29

MARGUERITE PORETE, Le Mirouer des simples ames, edité par R. Guarnieri

MARGARETAE PORETE, Speculum animarum simplicium, cura et studio P. Verdeyen , (CCCM 69), Turnholti, Brepols, 1986.

MATON Gérard, Eléments pour une histoire de la congrégation Notre Dame du Fief, Texte polycopié.

Mc DONNEL E.W., The beguines and beghards in medieval culture, New Brunswick-New Jersey, 1954

MECHTHILD of Magdebourg, The Flowing Light of the Godhead,
Frank Tobin (Introduction, Translator) Format: Kindle Edition

MENESTÒ Enrico (ed.), Le terziarie francescane della beata Angelina: origine e spiritualità. Atti del convegno (Foligno, 13-15 luglio 1995), Centro Ital. di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo, Spoleto 1996, pp. VIII-360, tavv. f.t. 47 (Biblioteca del Centro per il collegamento degli studi medievali e umanistici in Umbria 17).

MENS A. (a cura di) Beghine, Begardi, Beghinaggi, Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione I, 1165-1180

MOMMAERS Paul, Hadewijch d’Anvers, adapté du néerlandais par Camille Jordens, CERF, Paris, 1994

MONTUSCHI Lea, Umiltà di Faenza.Una santa di ieri per oggi, Ed Paoline,

MURARO Luisa, Il dio delle donne, Mondadori, 2003

MURARO Luisa, Guglielma e Manfreda, La tartaruga edizioni, Milano, 2003

MURARO Luisa, Le amiche di Dio. Margherita e le altre, Orthotes, Salerno-Napoli, 2014

MOROTTI Giuseppe, La riscoperta delle Beghine: dovere di gustizia e stimolo per il nostro tempo, in Appunti di viaggio, n.128, settembre-ottobre 2013

PANCIERA Silvana, Les beguines, Ed. Fidélité, Namur, 2009 e 2011 ; Le Beghine. Una storia di donne per la libertà, Gabrielli Editori, San Pietro in Cariano, 2011 ; Die Beguine, Octopus, Munster, 2014

PANCIERA Silvana, Marguerite Porete, un’eretica da santificare, in Appunti di viaggio, n.129, novembre-dicembre 2013

PANCIERA Silvana, Vedere con cuore: Mechthild di Magdeburg, in Appunti di viaggio, n.130, gennaio-febbraio 2014

PANCIERA Silvana,Hadewijch o la lirica cortese nelle mistica, in Appunti di viaggio, n. 132, maggio-agosto 2014

PANCIERA Silvana, Giuliana di Norwich Dio familiare e cortese (So homely and so curteyse) in Appunti di viaggio, n. 171, marzo-aprile 2022

PANCIERA Silvana, Christina the Astonishing by Sylvain&Silvana, an English review made by Silvana Panciera to popularise the book of Sylvain Piron (January 2024)

PANCIERA Silvana, Voi presumete, noi sappiamo. Squarci sul mondo delle Beghine storiche, in Appunti di viaggio, n.178, set/ot 2023

PANCIERA Silvana, Madri della Chiesa. Marie d’Oignies, in Appunti di viaggio, n. 179, Nov./Dec. 2023

PANCIERA Silvana, Christina di Stommeln. Amor omnia vincit, in Appunti di viaggio, n.180, Gen/Feb., 2024

PANCIERA Silvana, Angelina da Montegiove. Il prezzo della libertà, in Appunti di viaggio, n.181, marzo aprile 2024

PÈDE René, Béguine set béguinages à Nivelles sous l’ancien régime, dans Revue d’histoire religieuse du Brabant-Wallon, Tome 12, 1998

PERNOUD Régine, La femme aux temps des cathédrales, Stock, 1980.

PERNOUD Régine, Les saints au Moyen Âge, Plon, 1984

PIRON Sylvain/ Thomas de Cantimpré, with  the collaboration of Armelle Le Huërou, Christine l’Admirable. Vie, chants et merveilles, Vues de l’esprit, Bruxelles, 2021, pp 204, with the collaboration of Armelle Le Huërou

PORETE MARGARETAE, Speculum animarum simplicium, cura et studio P. Verdeyen , (CCCM 69), Turnholti, Brepols, 1986.

PORETE Marguerite, Lo specchio delle anime semplici, traduzione di Giovanna Fozzer e contributi di Romana Guarneri e Marco Vannini, Ed. San Paolo, 1994

PORETE Marguerite , Nobile amore,  Piemme, casale Monferrato, 1996

PSEUDO-HADEWIJCH, Poesie miste, tradotte da Alessia Vallarsa con la coll. Di Joros Reynaert, Marietti Editore, Genova-Milano, 2007

PSEUDO MASTER ECKHART, Diventare Dio. L’insegnamento di sorella Katrei, a cura di Marco Vannini, Adelphi edizioni, Milano, 2006

RASENBERG M.M.M., Viering 750 jaar Begijnhof Breda, Begijnhot Breda, 2017

REATI Fiorenzo,ofm, L’amicizia profumo della vita, Arca, Trento, 2004

RICHIR Luc, Marguerite Porete. Une âme au travail de l’Un , Ed.OUSIA, Bruxelles, 2002

ROQUET Claude-Henri, Petite vie de Ruysbroeck, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 2003

RUYSBROEC, Le livre des XII Béguines, œuvres de Ruysbroeck l’admirable, Tome VI, Vroment & C°, Bruxelles, 1938

SALVADORI Patrizia, Travolta da divina passione, dans Medioevo, ottobre 2004

SALVANESCHI  Nino, L’anima del Belgio, Milano, 1927

SALVARANI Renata,  Anime in amore di Dio, in Medioevo, ottobre 2009.

SBROGIÓ Adriana e CAZZANIGA Marco (a cura di), Le nuove beghine, Identità e differenza, Spinea, 2014

SCARAFFIA Lucetta, Spose di Dio, in Ruha, il femminile di Dio, Piccola biblioteca mille lire, n.14, Stampa alternativa

SCARAFFIA Lucetta, La santa degli impossibili, Vita e pensiero, Milano, 2014

SCHMITT Jean-Claude, Mort d’une hérésie. L’Église et les clers face aux béguines et aux bégards du Rhin supérieur du XIVe au XVe siècle, Mouton éditeur, Paris, 1978

SEBASTIANI Lucia, Da bizzocche a monache in Il monachesimo femminile in Italia dall’alto medioevo al secolo XVII a confronto con l’oggi, a cura di Gabrielle Zarri, Gabrielli Editori, 1977

SENSI Mario, Storie di bizzoche tra Umbria e Marche, prefazione di Romana Guarneri, Edizioni di storia e letteratura, Roma, 1995 ;  Mulieres in Ecclesia . Storie di monache e bizzzoche, 2 tomi, Centro italiano di studi sull’alto medioevo, Spoleto, 2010

SIMON Pierre Arnold, Spiritualités et prophétisme dans les traditions judéo-chrétiennes, conférence organisée par Anjali, Bruxelles, 1989

SIMONS Walter, Cities of Ladies. Beguine communities in the Medieval Low Countries. 1200-1565, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001

SOLETI Maria Alessandra, Margherita porete: un processo ancora aperto. Una voce mistica nell’europa tardomedievale, Ed. Il Poligrafo, 2011

SOULAINE Aude, Marguerite Porete, dans Sept semaines avec les maîtres spirituels, Le supplément de La Vie du 4 mars 2004 (propos de Luc Richir)

STABLER  MILLER  Tanya, The Beguines of Medieval Paris. Gender, Patronage, and Spiritual Authority,University of Pennsylvania Press, 304 pages, 2014 (Kindle ebook), 2017 (paper)

STIENNON Jacques, Abbayes et des béguinages, Centre d’action culturelle de la communauté d’expression française, mai-juin 1973

SWAN Laura, The Wisdom of the Beguines, Bluebridge Press, 2015

TALEB Mohammed, La révolution des béguines, dans Le monde des religions, mars-avril, 2011.

TARDIO Gabriele, Donne eremite, bizzoche e monache di casa nel Gargano occidentale,Testi di storia e tradizioni popolari, maggio 2007

TOMSIN Nathalie, Béguines et béguinages liégeois, Ed.Lecture et liberté, Liège, l984

TRIEST Monika, Grote Madammen. Het Sint-Elisabeth begijnhof van Gent en Sint-Amandsberg. Uitgeverij Averbode, 2011

VALLARSA Alessia, Nell’alta conoscenza del nudo amore. Un testo anonimo della mistica brabantina del XIV secolo: le Mengeldichten 17-29, Tesi di dottorato di ricerca, Università di Padova – Universiteit Gent, 2010

VANDEN BOSSCHE Hugo, Begijnen, begijnhoven en het begijnhof van Turnhout.  De Vrienden van het Begijnhof van Turnhout, Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, 2013

VANDENBROECK Paul (sous la direction), Le jardin clos de l’âme, Société des expositions, Bruxelles, 1994 (catalogue de l’expo du 25 février au 22 mai 1994)

VAN AERSCHOT Suzanne & Michiel Heriman, Les béguinages de Flandre, Service des monuments et sites du Ministère de la Région Flamande, Editions Racine, 2001( a préparé le dossier pour la reconnaissance par l’UNESCO des béguinages comme patrimoine mondial de l’humanité ), édition originale en néerlandais parue chez Uitgeverij Davidsfond, Leuven, 2001

VAUCHEZ André, La spiritualité du Moyen Age occidental, Seuil, Point, Paris, l994

VAUCHEZ André, Les laïcs au Moyen Age. Pratiques et expériences religieuses, CERF, Paris, l987

VERDEYEN Paul s.j. Les activités de Ruusbroec à Bruxelles, conférence donnée à Bruxelles le 14 février 1998, texte polycopié

VERHOEVEN Alice, Le grand Béguinage de Bruxelles, Ed. Verhoeven, Bruxelles, 1995

VERRET Sylvain, Béguines et béguinages liégeois, Revue du Clergé français, Tome XXVIII, 1900-1901

VRANKEN Apolline,  Des béguinages à l’architecture féministe. Comment interroger et subvertir les rapports de genre matérialisés dans l’habitat ? mémoire de fin Master 2 en architecture, Prix de l’Université des Femmes, 2018

WALKER BYNUM Caroline, Sacro convivio, sacro digiuno. Il significato religioso del cibo per le donne del Medioevo, Feltrinelli, 2001, 471 p.

WEYERGANS Franz et ZENONI Anne, photos de Michel FISCHER, Béguinages de Belgiquem Paul Legrain éd. Bruxelles, 1972

ZANGARI Mattia, Santità femminile e disturbi mentali fra Medioevo ed età moderna, Editori Laterza, 2022, pp.245

The Beguinal movement yesterday

Beguine statue
Beguinage of Antwerpen

Toward the end of the twelfth century an utterly new phenomenon occurs: different women intend to exist as such, without being either wives or nuns. They are neighbours or living in the same house or in terraced houses in the same street. Some live as hermits near a church, or with sick people, some live alone or in groups, near a male convent. Others, mainly poor women, choose a wandering apostolic life, praying and begging for “a piece of bread for God’s sake”.


This is how the movement of the Beguines comes to life. In spite of a variety of forms, the movement has the same aim everywhere: living a secluded life in an urban environment, heading for perfection through prayers, sanctified work, help of the poor, community life and mystical research, also with forms of asceticism.

The Beguines’ experience is a creative mixture of both secular and religious ingredients. Among the secular ones: individuality, institutional independence, remunerated work. Among the religious ones: a dedicated life with revocable vows, intense praying, help to the poor, mystical research.

The first group of Beguines historically documented develops around Marie d’Oignies (b. 1177- d. 1213). After nursing with her husband a group of lepers for twelve years, in 1207 Marie retires to live a Beguinal life at Oignies, in Hainaut, a province of today Belgium.  A second group forms with the help of Lambert le Bègue. Just before his death in Liège in 1187, the prelate had a group of small houses built around the church of San Christophe, in order to accommodate women intending to live in seclusion. We also know of the existence in Nivelles in 1208 of a group of women devoted to praying and charity.

The considerable increase of their number, the vicissitudes due to an errant life and the clerical pressure for a protected setting of these women lead to the creation of beguinages: groups of small individual houses enclosed by walls, which later acquired the status of a parish. The movement gains its widest expansion in the thirteenth century and develops mainly in the beguinages from the second half of the same century.

Such diversity, and the absence of a centralized administration make it difficult to quantify the number of Beguines. From a letter of Pope John XXII to the bishop of Strasburg, we know that in 1321 only in West Germany live about 200,000 Beguines. In 1372 as many as 1,300 Beguines live in Brussels, that is more than 4% of its 30,000 inhabitants. One estimates that at the moment of its greatest expansion the movement counted about one million Beguines throughout Europe. But there is no documentation for it.

The Beguinal movement does not have a precise origin nor a founder

Saint Begge with Beghards and Beguines , Mechelen

In the seventeenth century there has been an attempt to indentify her in St. Begga, but this attempt lived shortly, as Begga, sister of the abbess Gertrude de Nivelles died much earlier, precisely in 693. Without a founder, without a precise origin, the Beguinal movement also has no unified rule, as each beguinage has its own one. Last but not least, the Beguinal movement has no formal historiography, which partly explains its limited historical visibility.

These women are called by different names according to the country where they live. In one of his sermons, written between 1229 and 1240, Jacques de Vitry enumerates them so:

In Latin           MULIER   RELIGIOSA
In French        PAPELARDE
In Lombard    HUMILIATA
In Tuscan        BIZZOCA
In German      COQUENNUNNE
In Flemish       BEGIJN

The origin of the Flemish name is uncertain: it may be a philological corruption of the word Albigenses; it may come from the colour beige of their dress; it may come from Old German “beggen, beggan”: to pray; or from Old French “begart”: to pour out prayers; or still, from Celtic, in French “bègue-béguelle”: simpleton, bigot.


The Beguinal movement includes also men, the Beghards.  Like the Beguines, the Beghards are not tied by irrevocable vows, nor have a unified rule and the members of a community obey only to their local superior. But unlike Beguines, Beghards do not have private property. The brothers in the same convent share their money, live under the same roof and eat at the same table. They are in general of modest origins, weavers, dyers and so on. For this reason they are closely linked to guilds. We even know that in Brussels – and probably elsewhere – no one could ever be admitted to a Beghard convent unless he was a member of the weavers’ guild. Beghards are often men who have suffered hardship, men who had survived friends or have been deprived of familiar ties due to unlucky events, men who could not live on their own because of delicate health, old age, accidents.

The Beguinal movement emerges in the same period of religious fervour when the Franciscan and Dominican orders are born, as well as a number of movements qualified as heretics  [Apostolians, Albigenses, Cathars, Free Spirits, Poor Volunteers] violently repressed by the Church. Also the Beguinal movement is considered suspicious and in the odour of heresy. Thanks to the active intervention of some prelates, in the thirteenth century two Papal bulls  [by Gregory IX in 1233 and by Urban IV in 1269]  are issued in protection of the Beguines in a few  dioceses of what today is Belgium. But the German, French, Italian, and other Beguines found it hard to resist, as the repression was still active elsewhere.

The Inquisition, created in 1231, condemns to the stake also a number of Beguines, among them Lutgarde of Trier in 1231, Aleydis of Cambrai in 1236,  Marguerite Porete in 1310, and Mezza Von Westenhove in 1366. The Vienne Synod (1311 – 1312) condemns the Beguinal movement as heretic, but the sentences was mitigated by two papal bulls: the first, by John XXII in 1319 in favour of the Beguines of Brabant, the second by Clemente VI in 1343, in favour of the Dutch Beguines.


Persecuted, subject to inquisitional procedures, often deprived of their properties, even forced to close their institutions, only the Beguines of the Low Countries manage to hold on without too many aggressions, even in a general atmosphere of suspicion and strict compliance with the authority. In these are hard times, new buildings such as the beguinage of Hoogstraten built in 1380, are extremely rare. The repression lasted until all the Beguines were transferred in closed and strictly controlled communities. The most obstinate Beghards were locally condemned several times and came to an end with the end of the Middle Ages.

The crisis of the Calvinist Reform in the northern Low Countries causes the disappearance of all beguinages, except those in Amsterdam and Breda. In the southern Low Countries, the movement has a revival, but on it the wind of the Counter-Reformation blows, which calls for a stricter supervision by spiritual directors and a stricter seclusion.

The Austrian government, which after the treaty of Utrecht  [1713]  obtains the government of these territories, does not encourage the movement. On the contrary, it introduces a set of obstacles such as permissions and taxes, which forces the Beguines to sell their beguinages at low prices.

Lastly, the French occupation in 1795 confiscates their properties and acknowledges their existence only as charitable services. In 1824 the Beguines obtain the right to wear again their dresses, but not to own their properties, and for a while they are also forbidden to enter new professions.

Marcella Patteijn

In spite of this, in 1896 in Belgium still live 1,230 Beguines. In 1960, 600 Beguines are living in eleven beguinages but at the end of the twentieth century their number can be counted on the fingers of two hands. The latest beguine in the word, Marcella Pattijn (1920- 2013), died Sunday 14 April  2013 in Kortrijck in the home Sint-Jozef where she have lived after have been living in the Kortrijck Beguinage from 1960 to 2005.





En continuant à utiliser le site, vous acceptez l’utilisation des cookies. Questo sito utilizza due cookies tecnici. Se siete d'accordo potete continuare. his site uses two technical cookies. If you agree you can continue. Plus d’informations

Questo sito utilizza due cookies tecnici. Se siete d'accordo potete continuare. Ce site utilise deux cookies techniques. Si vous êtes d'accord, vous pouvez continuer. This site uses two technical cookies. If you agree you can continue.