This session addresses problems in the presentation of female spirituality in a range of contexts from rural Britain to urban Milan.
Byzantine Orthodox circles, striving to strengthen their position against the still-influential iconoclasts at the end of the iconoclastic controversy (726–843), embraced the Psalter as an effective tool for propagating their beliefs. This was achieved through the creation of new images, one of the most striking being the Personification of Zion, based not only on biblical texts but also on theological and exegetical literature. This notion is usually translated into the image of an edifice and a female figure, alluding to Zion-Jerusalem. The image conveys the idea of the transcendent act of God creating the Chosen People, not the Hebrews, but the iconophiles who adhere by the true faith, as opposed to the heretic iconodules active in Constantinople.
The Book of Margery Kempe, written when the anti-Lollard campaign was in full swing, presents its heroine as an orthodox member of the Church. In this paper I will address the question whether Margery Kempe could be considered a Lollard, and if so, to what extent and in what aspect. I purpose that a careful reading of Kempe’s approach to religious artefacts, their veneration, and even pilgrimage, reveals her to be closer to the Lollard doctrinal position than to the orthodox one. I will examine Kempe’s text and approach in relation to its historical background to show Kempe’s probable affinity to the Lollard heresy, particularly with regard to images and pilgrimage.
St Peter of Verona (1206-1252), originally born into a family who were adherents of the Cathar sect, joined the Dominican Order as a young man and spent the remainder of his life preaching vigorously against the Cathar/Manichaean heresy, ultimately serving as inquisitor general for northern Italy. His death at the hands of an assassin hired by the heretics has the distinction of being one of the last martyrdoms of a Christian for the True Faith in the post-Late Antique period. Although St Peter Martyr is credited with numerous ‘healing miracles’, this paper will focus on a series of Trecento and Quattrocento painted images of the saint performing ‘miracles of orthodoxy’ – miracles that either expose false doctrine as the work of the Devil (no matter how innocent its guise) or divinely bless and reward adherence to orthodox Catholic dogma, of which the Dominicans were the guardians.