The Carmelite Order did not have an easy arrival to Western Europe. Despite their quick expansion, the foreign eastern Order was not always received with a warm welcome in their host cities in Europe. Their religious habits, with their uncommon striped cloak, far from helping them to gain a respected place as a sign of their status, brought them scorn and distress, making their ‘otherness’ even more evident. Thus, the barrati fratres had to decide between keeping their original attire, or adapting it to the ways of the West, betraying an essential part of their original spirit. Although they opted for the latter, the change was hard to forget. It became, in fact, an essential part of the narrative that defined their identity, and so this ‘otherness’ was continuously re-elaborated by the historiography of the Order during the 14th and 15th centuries.
The Alberti helped popes to rebuild Rome. In the literature it is assumed that Leon Battista Alberti and Pope Nicholas V ‘invented’ conscious urban planning in Rome in 1447. Leon Battista was introduced to the papacy by his relatives long before he had met Nicholas V. Exiled from Florence, Guillem, a hospitaller friar who mixed religious with military life, built fortresses and city walls to solidify rule in Church territories; in the navy, he brought vessels from Sicily to Avignon to carry pope Gregory XI back to the decaying, immigrant, pilgrims city of Rome. Hospitaller concepts of otherness prevailed into Renaissance Rome.
In 1499 the first Irish Dominican Convent, La Incarnacion, was founded in Bilbao, Galicia, north-west Spain. This was closely followed by Irish sister foundations in Aviles, Ferrol, and Santiago de Compostela. The aim of these Irish Dominican sisters was to establish their own mission in a part of Spain which they found to be initially supportive. However, Irish Dominicans did not embrace enclosure, moreover, they established their own teaching mission and outreach work. After initial acceptance it soon became clear that they were scandalising the Galician faithful. Irish sisters secured funding from donatrix, and were able to gain support from senior Irish male clergy. However, certain tensions emerged in terms of both orthodoxy and missions. This paper asks how Irish Dominicans dealt with being the ‘other’ in a country they chose as a permanent base. Methodologies include using corresponding sources from both Irish and Spanish Dominicans in order to analyse and problematise both groups’ responses to each other, as well as to themselves.