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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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Envisioning an Order

Envisioning an Order

The Last Lay Saints

(p.242) Chapter 7 Envisioning an Order
The Lay Saint

Mary Harvey Doyno

Cornell University Press

This chapter offers a new explanation for why and how the contemporary lay civic saint seemingly disappeared over the fourteenth century. Instead of seeing mendicant spirituality as inherently oriented toward “mystical and paramystical phenomena,” and thus as pushing lay sanctity in that direction, it argues that the stress placed on medieval gender and power norms by women's participation in the lay penitential movement as well as the cults they earned for their efforts ultimately led to the end of the contemporary lay civic saint. From the second half of the thirteenth century, hagiographers—who were increasingly mendicant friars—responded to the female lay penitents garnering saintly reputations by advocating for an ideal lay life in which visions trumped a commitment to civic issues and charitable works. This new conception of an ideal lay life was not simply an indication of the spiritual point of view of the mendicant hagiographers, but rather a means the church had adopted to solve the longstanding problem of the female lay penitent. At the heart of this chapter's argument then is the contention that gender played a crucial role in the development of new lay religious ideals in the late medieval Italian communes.

Keywords:   lay civic saint, mendicant spirituality, sanctity, medieval gender norms, medieval power norms, cults, hagiographers, mendicant friars, female lay penitents, lay religious ideals

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