The Legacy of Birgitta of Sweden

Women, Politics, and Reform in Renaissance Italy


Saint Birgitta of Sweden (d. 1373), one of the most famous visionary women of the late Middle Ages, lived in Rome for the last 23 years of her life. Much of her extensive literary work was penned there. Her Celestial Revelations circulated widely from the late 14th century to the 17th century, copied in Italian scriptoria, translated into vernacular, and printed in several Latin and Italian editions. In the same centuries, an extraordinary number of women writers across the peninsula were publishing their work. What echoes might we find of the foreign widow’s prophetic voice in their texts? This volume offers innovative investigations, written by an interdisciplinary group of experts, of the profound impact of Birgitta of Sweden in Renaissance Italy.

Contributors include: Brian Richardson, Jane Tylus, Isabella Gagliardi, Clara Stella, Marco Faini, Jessica Goethals, Anna Wainwright, Eleonora Cappuccilli, Eleonora Carinci, Virginia Cox, Unn Falkeid, and Silvia Nocentini.
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Unn Falkeid, Ph.D (2006) is Professor of the History of Ideas at the University of Oslo. She has published extensively on medieval and early modern literature, including The Avignon Papacy Contested: An Intellectual History from Dante to Catherine of Siena (2017).

Anna Wainwright, Ph. D. (2017) is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies at the University of New Hampshire. She has published on gender and religion in the Italian Renaissance, and is co-editor of the volume Innovation in the Italian Counter-Reformation (2020).
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

Unn Falkeid and Anna Wainwright

1 Birgitta and Pseudo-Birgitta: Textual Circulation and Perceptions of the Saint
Brian Richardson

2 Making Birgitta Italian: The Time of Translation
Jane Tylus

3 Prophetic Theology: The Santa Brigida da Paradiso in Florence
Isabella Gagliardi

4 A Lineage of Apocalyptic Queens: The Portrayal of Birgitta of Sweden in Domenica Narducci’s Sermon to Caterina Cibo (1533)
Clara Stella

5 The Fifteen Prayers Attributed to Birgitta and Their Circulation in Early Modern Italy: Private Devotion, Heterodoxy, and Censorship
Marco Faini

6 Ventriloquizing Birgitta: The Saint’s Prophetic Voice During the Italian Wars
Jessica Goethals and Anna Wainwright

7 The Semantics of Obedience. Birgittine Influences on Paola Antonia Negri’s Letters
Eleonora Cappuccilli

8 Discourses on the Virgin Mary: Birgitta of Sweden and Chiara Matraini
Eleonora Carinci

9 “Consenti, o pia, ch’in lagrimosi carmi …:” Birgitta in the Verse, Thought, and Artistic Commissions of Angelo Grillo
Virginia Cox

10 “The Most Illustrious and Divine of All the Sibyls.” Saint Birgitta in the Prophetic Visions of Tommaso Campanella and Queen Cristina of Sweden
Unn Falkeid

Appendix: One Life, Many Hagiographers: The Earliest Vitae of Birgitta of Sweden
Silvia Nocentini

General Index
Student and scholars interested in the Italian Renaissance, late medieval and Renaissance history, religious history, gender, and early modern women writers. Keywords: Italy, Renaissance, history, literature, women writers, mystics, saints, prophecy, papacy, Rome, book history, church history.
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