Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Mendicant Cultures in the Medieval and Early Modern World: Word, Deed, and Image

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Mendicant Cultures in the Medieval and Early Modern World: Word, Deed, and Image

Article excerpt

Mendicant Cultures in the Medieval and Early Modern World: Word, Deed, and Image. Edited by Sally J. Cornelison, Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby, and Peter Howard. [Europa Sacra, Vol. 19.] (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. 2016. Pp. xviii, 322. €90,00. ISBN 978-2-503-55554-6.)

The stated purpose of this book is to "revisit, revise, and enhance our understanding of the ways in which words, deeds, and images shaped and represented mendicant religious culture in Italy and abroad" (p. xii). The eleven articles are focused on the time between the early thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries, primarily in Italy but not confined to the birthplace of Francis. The book offers a smorgasbord of information about mendicant theologians and preachers, church leaders, missionaries (in particular William of Rubruck's mission to the Mongols), medieval women, sacred places, and religious objects. We get a significant glimpse of the many aspects that make up the various mendicant cultures of the Dominican and Franciscan world of the later Middle Ages and beyond.

There are five noteworthy articles that deal with the world of images, that is, the art and architecture that show how the followers of Saints Dominic and Francis produced through stained-glass, fresco paintings, sculpture, church architecture, and other media, the full flowering of mendicant spirituality. We are introduced to the spirituality of the mendicant churches such as San Francesco in Assisi; Santa Croce, San Marco, and Ognisanti in Florence; and Santa Maria di Castello in Genoa.

Three articles in this volume deal with issues of medieval Christians' relations with Islam and Muslims. Nirit Debby's article shows how the iconography of Francis, Clare, and John of Capistrano and their encounter with Muslims (the Sultan, Saracens, and Turks) reflects the Franciscan concern for Christian-Muslim relations at the church of ognisanti during the seventeenth century. Ashley Elston's article introduces us to Taddeo Gaddi's painting (Santa Croce) of the scene of Francis before the Sultan in relation to other medieval paintings of this same scene. …

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