Though they have received far less attention in secondary scholarship, Hrotsvit’s eight metrical hagiographic legends display her unique ability to balance innovation with adherence to source material. The foundation for this hagiographic endeavor lies in the Maria, which relies both on the canonical gospels and the so-called Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. Hrotsvit clearly intends her work to be a unique edition to her readers’ Marian knowledge, noting she has ignored portions of the narrative that ‘everyone knows’ in favor of those elements that are ‘rarely addressed in church’ (Maria, 54-542). The Maria presents a multifaceted theological explanation of Mary as genetrix, mediatrix, and ideal monastic. Hrotsvit’s narrative emphasizes and expands the allegorical sections of the Pseudo-Matthean account in order to train her readers in the practice of interpretation, or seeing with ‘the eyes of the mind’ (mentis ocellis, Maria, 549). Equipped with this newfound knowledge, readers are one step closer in the quest to cultivate their God-given intellect, rescuing their minds from the insidious ‘rust of neglect’ (Prologue, 15-17).
St Monica presents a model for active female piety in two 15th-century lives, John Capgrave’s Life of St Augustine and Osbern Bokenham’s Life of St Monica. Despite portraying Monica’s piety and influence on her son Augustine, both authors diminish Monica’s skill as a prophetess. Most significantly, neither author mentions her ability to discern between true and false visions. I argue that this omission of Monica’s prophetic gifts stems from an anxiety about her lack of ecclesiastical guidance for her visions, drawing on the concerns about heresy in 15th-century England and the requirements for female visionaries in the ‘discretio spirituum’ tradition.