Angela of Foligno's Memorial by Cristina Mazzoni, John Cirignano

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By Cristina Mazzoni, John Cirignano

Angela of Foligno is taken into account via many because the maximum mystical voice between Italian medieval girls. She dedicated herself to a constant pursuit of God whilst as a middle-aged lady she misplaced her mom, husband and youngsters; illiterate herself, she dictated her stories to her confessor, who transcribed her phrases into Latin because the Memorial. In an instantaneous and lively kind, it tells of her agony, visions, pleasure, id with Christ, and eventually her mystical union with God. even if, her e-book has regularly been considered with suspicion, certainly even bordering on heresy; her spirituality is going past traditional language in addition to past authorized doctrines and modes of prayer. This annotated choice from the Memorial is preceded through a biographical advent which areas Angela's textual content in its ancient, cultural, and religious context; the accompanying interpretive essay which follows compares Angela's event with that of twentieth-century Christian feminist theologians. the quantity is finished with an annotated bibliography.

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Instead of receding into the background of ineffability, language becomes in the hands of the mystic an exuberant weapon. Angela's was not a privatized spirituality limited to the domestic and/or psychological sphere. And in order to assess the origin of and motives for its impact we need to study closely her text. 8 Tiziana Arcangeli, "Re-reading a Mis-known and Mis-read Mystic: Angela da Foligno," Annali d'italianistica 13 (1995): 4178, 69. Page 10 The most authoritative manuscript of Angela's writings is found in the Biblioteca Comunale of Assisi, and it is simply titled Liber Lelle, or "The book of Leila" an almost mysterious appellation which rightly presages a difficult, unseizable, undefinable text.

This is a chatty scribe who regularly interpolates his own comments, including candid and contradictory statements concerning both his faithfulness to Angela's words and his inability to transmit Angela's message accurately because of his ineptitude and deficiencies as a transcriber. Clearly, if we are to believe the former set of statements, we should also lend some credence to the latter: the scribe's lack of understanding of Angela's narrative must have influenced his presentation of it. Most obvious, for instance, is the problem of a shifting narrative perspective: the Memorial is sometimes told in the first person, Angela's own, and at other times in the third person, the scribe's.

Family was for Angela an obstacle for both practical and spiritual reasons. The topos of the family as a barrier to holiness has in fact a long tradition in Christian thought: Angela follows Christ's dictum in Luke 14:26, whereby rejection of one's family is a precondition to true discipleship. Marriage was in fact perceived as an impediment by many medieval holy women, who found in the religious life that freedom and autonomy unavailable to them in the secular world. If the consolation Angela found in the death of her family has to be tempered by her later admission of grief over the deaths of her mother and children (though, interestingly enough, not of her husband), still the exultation she declared concerning her ability to finally follow and imitate the crucified Christ thanks to the demise of those people whom in this world she most dearly loved does, and indeed must continue to carry its shocking impact.

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