Who we are

In the Beguinage of Dendermonde (Termonde)


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.

Antwerpen Beguinage
Statue of Beguine

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 Newsletter

The Newsletter “Beguines” informs about beguinages and beguines, both traditional and modern. You can also collaborate by sending news to info@beguines.info

To suscribe is also a way to touch in contact. For that, please do it yourself by https://tinyletter.com/Beguines or send your email to info@beguines.info

Please, read below the recent News with, between brackets, the date of their sending :

Beguines & Witches (21-01-2020)

It has sometimes been said that beguines are also witches. False. Although the beguinal world and that of witchcraft were predominantly and typically feminine, the two are not comparable, even if they have endured sometimes similar accusations. As proof, Canon Félix Hemmerlin (+1458), who deals with both beguines and witches, cites no example of a witch beguine. A clear distinction can also be found in the Formicarius by Dominican Jean Nider (+1438). Urban the  beguines, rural the witches, the latter are generally also poor women, while in the beguinal world social stratification is well represented. And again, the exclusive trait of the so-called witch is to have evil power due to her alliance with the devil.
About 40 km from where I live, in the Municipality of Nave (BS), lived Benvegnuda Pincinella, a woman who was burned as a witch in 1518. Five hundred years later, that is in 1918, the Municipal administration has placed a rehabilitating plaque on her house recognizing her skills as a healer. The plaque also recognizes that stereotypes, injustice and discrimination were at the origin of her martyrdom. With my friend Laura, on this plaque we have placed a flower in her memory.

New beguinal group in Switzerland (22-11-2020)

You will undoubtedly agree with me that this Newsletter also aims to promote contacts. I am therefore sending you the good news that I have just received: a new beguinal group is born in Switzerland. The text below of its presentation was discussed by the group itself and it was sent to me by Myriam and Franziska. It is important to know that new béguinale initiatives are born here and there and to help them to know each other. Many wishes of good journey to our beguines from Bern and Langenthal by the Beguines Newsletter:

“In autumn 2019, a few Swiss women (all German speakers: Myriam, Franziska, Kristina. Rosemarie and others, from Bern and Langenthal), who consider themselves “modern beguines”, met in Bern and decided to keep in touch. We had planned to meet twice a year, but unfortunately, given the corona virus, this has not been possible since. But the web helps us as we keep in touch electronically by sending us news from time to time. Our motivation is to live a modern and active Christian spirituality, while maintaining our institutional and intellectual independence. We all have a mature age – 50 years or more – and a certain taste for autonomy. Our togetherness is not Institutionalized. We support each other through our practice of prayer and daily meditation, each for herself but knowing that the others are also committed on this path. We live our Christian commitment  (for ex. in our parish, by paying particular attention to disadvantaged people in our professional meetings, by being involved in special meetings, etc.) as independent women, anchored to the earth, open to heaven, rooted in daily life, wherever we happened to live. The two Beguines of Bern are members of the German “Dachverband der Beginen e.V.”. We are happy to benefit from an international network.” The group has a website (in German): www.beginen.ch. If you want to have a contact or other information, you can write to: beginen-bern@beginen.ch

Beguinal calendar 2021 (27-10-2020)

The general assembly of the members of “Nel giardino delle Beghine” (In the Beguines’ garden) held in Mantova on Saturday 24 October reported the second year of life of this new and dynamic association. All the places authorized by the anti Covid measures, about twenty, were occupied, but to broaden the participation, the kind Alessia also made a recording now available on Youtube.
A pleasent surprise:  in this occasion the 2021 calendar of the Beguines was presented. Each month describes a beguine (traditional or contemporary) who in that month was born or reborn through death to another life. You will find below the list of the beguines mentioned for the different months with the inclusion in August of their influencer Bernard of Clairvaux. We are not sexsite, after all !
If you want to get it, please pay the sum of 7 euros (shipment within Italy) to the IBAN account IT76S0501811200000016754582 in the name of the Garden of the Beguines, via Dugoni 12 – Mantova, clearly indicating your address for the subsequent sending and as reason indicate “2021 calendar”.  For other countries, please write to nelgiardinodellebeghine@gmail.com
In the recording available on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9v5K3fbPOQ my speech entitled “The mysticism of the beguines” is also outlined, lasting from the 30th to 82th minutes. Note a small correction: the Concil that reaffirmed the doctrine of transubstantiation is Lateran IV in the year 1215.
Despite these difficult times, as Miss Marx would say: “Always ahead

Las Beguinas. Mujeres por la libertad (22-09-2020)

For my seventieth birthday which falls in September, I made myself a very special gift: the publication also in Spanish of my work about beguines. After a first edition in French in 2009, various translations followed with related editions: in Italian (2011), in English (2013), in German (2014). Now one also in Spanish. The presence of the Beatas in Catalonia and throughout Spain, as well as the encouragement of Sandra (translator of the text from French, thanks Sandra) and Roberto’s precious help for the cover convinced me in step … doble! The edition that you will find at this link https://www.amazon.com/Las-Beguinas-Mujeres-libertad-Spanish-ebook/dp/B08JKC4W63/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=silvana+panciera&qid=1600754659&s=books&sr=1-1 , however, is not the translation of the original text, but a real new edition, much richer and more thorough than the previous one, which anticipates those that will follow in Italian, French and English. The linguistic order of the editions is now chronologically different of the first  but the aim remains the same: to tell the greatest number of people, and therefore in different languages, this compelling story of women enraptured with love and with “sanctification in freedom”. Thank you for joining me in making this story known.

Reading the Newsletters of the year 2020
Reading the Newsletters of the year 2019
Reading the Newsletters of the year 2018
Reading the Newsletters of the year 2017

The Newsletter “Beguines” informs about beguinages and beguines, both traditional and modern. You can also collaborate by sending news to info@beguines.info

To suscribe is also a way to touch in contact. For that, please do it yourself by https://tinyletter.com/Beguines or send your email to info@beguines.info