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The Lay SaintCharity and Charismatic Authority in Medieval Italy, 1150-1350$
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Mary Harvey Doyno

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501740206

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501740206.001.0001

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Zita of Lucca

Zita of Lucca

The Outlier

Chapter:
(p.163) Chapter 5 Zita of Lucca
Source:
The Lay Saint
Author(s):

Mary Harvey Doyno

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501740206.003.0006

This chapter focuses on the cult of Zita of Lucca (d. 1278). The earliest source for the existence of Zita's cult is a miracle collection that was begun on April 28, 1278, the day after Zita's death. This same manuscript contains the earliest copy of her vita, which reports that it was the notary Fatinello di Migliore who had transcribed 150 accounts of miracles performed at Zita's tomb. While several aspects of Zita's life and early cult do not fit into the trajectory of female lay saints' cults that have been discussed in the previous chapters, they do mirror certain themes in the cults of thirteenth-century laymen. Ultimately, Zita's role as the perfect candidate came as the result of the vita's construction of her as an outlier among the general lay population, and most importantly, among pious laywomen. Thus, Zita is not simply a pious parishioner as well as an attentive and obedient worker, but a model of lay religious restraint and practicality. Zita, as the vita's author will repeatedly reiterate, knew the proper times, places, and manner for expressing her penitential commitment and zeal. In short, Zita was an anomaly, bucking all expectations about the behavior of a devout laywoman.

Keywords:   Zita of Lucca, miracle collection, female lay saints, cults, religious restraint, laywomen

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