Convent Chronicles: Women Writing About Women and Reform in by Anne Winston-Allen

By Anne Winston-Allen

The past due heart a long time used to be a time of severe spiritual ferment in Europe marked via numerous demands reform of the Church. inside of monastic orders, the Observant stream was once one such attempt to reform spiritual homes, sparked via the common worry that those homes had strayed too faraway from their unique calling.

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Bertha recounts how Adelheid disliked sisters singing badly and berated those lying abed with illnesses. [I]t happened that one of the sisters could not keep the [tune] of the choir of loudly singing voices . . and the good mother would correct her and box her ears, then for the rest of her life the sister had a beautiful voice and sang clearly. 54 This anecdote gives a rather startling female perspective on what seems to have been considered proper discipline applied by a ‘‘good’’ woman to other women of the upper classes in the eleventh century, clearly a harsher age than our own.

Katharina in St. Gall, Barbara Enzinger, the daughter of a stone mason, was admitted through the prerogative of a newly elected bishop to recommend one woman for admission. ’’37 With its exclusively aristocratic inhabitants, Rijnsburg Abbey main{  } .......................... 10914$ $CH1 10-13-04 13:56:34 PS PAGE 31 Convent Chronicles tained the customs of the secular court. Its abbesses, regularly chosen from the very highest nobility, were waited on by a chamberlain, a cupbearer, and pages.

59 Lay Sisters and Fees Women from less affluent families often entered cloisters as lay sisters. 62 Not strictly enclosed, lay sisters could go in and out of the convent. On rare occasions, a lay sister might work her way up to choir-sister as did Sister Christina Reyselt, whose story is told in the chronicle of the cloister of Pfullingen. The account, written by one of the sisters (c. ), prizes Christina’s resourcefulness, relating how she negotiated the right to become a choir nun. In tandem with the reform, the well-liked and capable Christina rose in the monastic ranks.

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