Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy

By Judith C. Brown | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
The Second Investigation

IF BENEDETTA'S REINSTATEMENT to her post as abbess can be seen as a return to normalcy, then the scant documentation for subsequent years tends to confirm it. In the eyes of Benedetta's contemporaries, nothing sufficiently noteworthy to merit written mention occurred in the Theatine convent. Yet this is precisely what is most remarkable. For, during a period of over two years, Benedetta led a double life -- as administrator and spiritual leader of a convent on the one hand, and as mystic on the other -- and managed to fulfill both roles adequately enough to satisfy local officials and the nuns under her charge.

This was a notable achievement, since it took considerable talent to be a good abbess. Because she was responsible for the temporal as well as the spiritual welfare of her convent, an abbess' duties led in two very different directions -- the material world and the world of the spirit. Her responsibilities included the appointment of nuns to the customary offices of a convent -- portress, treasurer, mistress of the novices, and so on -- which had to be filled with capable women: the treasurer should be literate and familiar with bookkeeping; the mistress of the novices

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Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter One - The Family 21
  • Chapter Two - The Convent 29
  • Chapter Three - The Nun 42
  • Chapter Four - The First Investigation 75
  • Chapter Five - The Second Investigation 100
  • Epilogue 132
  • Appendix - A Note About the Documents, with Selected Translations 139
  • Notes 165
  • Index 207
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