by Anna Clotilde FILANNINO
Blessed Angelina da Montegiove is a woman from the region of Umbria, who lived between the century XIV and XV, known as the founder of the Third Cloistered Franciscan Order. In reality she believed in the possibility of living a form of consecrated alternative to the monastic life. She believed in it and she obtained an official recognition, allowing not only herself and her companions but also many women to come out of illegality, which had been the condition of many for decades. This paved the way for other women who could not be set off on a path of consecration, due to the limited number of entrances to monasteries. The latter ones are largely women of Umbria who lived a similar experience of Angelina, in Foligno, Assisi and Todi, while supporting each other. In the following decades, groups of women from other cities of central Italy – Florence, Ascoli, Viterbo and later Perugia and L’Aquila – will join them and their relationship will become more intense to the point of deciding to found a congregation in 1428, the Congregation of Foligno. Angelina becomes the general minister with the authority to visit, exhort, transfer the sisters from one sorority to another. We are faced with a reality of women who wish to live intensely their spiritual life, similar to that found in the beguinages of Flemish Europe. Their experience in Italy, after a few decades from the approval, was repeatedly hindered because it was considered in contrast with the attempt of reform carried out by the second generation of Franciscan Observers and it took the humble tenacity of Angelina and her sisters not to succumb and keep faith with the happy intuition they were bearers of.