Spiritual Meditations is the first of four books in which Matraini deals with the spiritual life. It was published in 1581 by Vincenzo Busdraghi, in Lucca. There are only two original copies of the book: one at the Biblioteca Nazionale di San Marco in Venice, the other one at the Biblioteca Capitolare Feliniana at Lucca. Of these, the superior one is at Lucca, having fewer errors and being much better preserved. The Venice copy is in microfilm at the Widener Library of Harvard University.
The book is divided into twelve meditations or chapters. It begins with a first chapter that recounts how the book was created: a dream in which the author was submerged by a tempest, after which the Supreme Power came to her to show her the virtuous way to a good life. This done, she recounts a meditation for each day of her narrative, beginning with a thought of her own, illustrating it by a sonnet, and then turning to the Supreme Power for illumination of the matter. The themes of the narration are the laws of Christ and God, with horrifying accounts of disobedience, followed by reforming obedience to the church and to the just way of salvation. The book ends with a canzone, “Padre del Ciel,” which also appears as the next- to- last poem in the 1597 volume.
In the deeper silence of the darkest night, which is rest and calm for the labors of mortals, I was oppressed by the most profound sleepiness.1 It seemed to me (I do not know whether it was because I had previously thought about my deep and long travails, or perhaps because of some other divine disposition) as if I were walking alone, through a shady and dark forest, near a great, roil-
1. Chiara Matraini, Meditazioni spirituali (Lucca: Busdraghi, 1581), chap. 1, 4r–9v.