Academic journal article Magistra

Canon Law and Cloistered Women: Periculoso and Its Commentators, 1298-1545

Academic journal article Magistra

Canon Law and Cloistered Women: Periculoso and Its Commentators, 1298-1545

Article excerpt

Makowski, Elizabeth. (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1997). 149 pp., hb, $46.95, ISBN 0-8132-0884-X.

The decree Periculoso, issued in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII, is generally recognized as a great turning point in the life of women religious. Its insistence upon the total enclosure of nuns was to effect the future of Catholic religious life forever after its promulgation, yet it is only a minor piece of the vast body of canon law, and has received little attention beyond the citation of its importance in many works on women's history. Catholic University, which many years ago gave us Violation of the Cloister as an introduction to the body of legislation of which Periculoso was a part, has now produced a second work on the topic.

Almost immediately any canonical legislation begins to be interpreted by commentators, and their analyses often become assumptions which can themselves have the weight of law in future deliberations. Elizabeth Makowski has explored the commentaries on Periculoso in its first centuries and provides a succinct and clear summary of them in this book. She begins with the background of the decree itself, and blends the theological environment with the political and social climate which helped to produce it.

In examining the various commentaries, she gives some of the background of the canon jurists themselves and the world in which they functioned. She then proceeds to give a brief synopsis of what each concluded, what were the themes of his gloss and how they reinforced or contradicted one another. …

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