Female Religious Life and the Cura Monialium in Hirsau Monasticism, 1080 to 1150
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This chapter explores the historical context of the Speculum virginum through investigating the expansion of religious life for women in houses founded or reformed by monks of Hirsau in the late eleventh and first half of the twelfth century. Under the influence of William of Hirsau and his immediate disciples, there was a dramatic growth of interest in reestablishing the vita apostolica as a way of life in which women could participate alongside men. Many monastic houses influenced by these reforms incorporated groups of women living as recluses alongside a male monastic community. Inevitably the participation of women in a way of life traditionally defined by men created tensions. The Speculum virginum can be seen as vindicating a way of life that might easily provoke criticism from outsiders. Male commentary on female religious life was a process through which they could actively constitute their own male religious identity.The popularity of this treatise within male communities, involved in pastoral responsibility for religious women, reflects a continuing need for men to be instructed in the way they had to relate to religious women.
KeywordsPastoral Care Religious Life Twelfth Century Female Community Male Community
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