Selected Poetry and Prose

By Chiara Matraini; Elaine Maclachlan | Go to book overview

IV
A BRIEF DISCOURSE ON THE LIFE AND
PRAISE OF THE MOST BLESSED VIRGIN
AND MOTHER OF THE SON OF GOD

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE

The year 1590 is the date of Matraini’s third book of prose, A Brief Discourse on the Life and Praise of the Most Blessed Virgin and Mother of the Son of God. The entire book appears in this series along with the writings on Mary by Vittoria Colonna and Lucrezia Marinella, translated by Susan Haskins. So I have included here only her dedication, her prologue, her poem “This, women …,” and a few of her thoughts on Mary, to serve as witness to her ideas. The book concludes with fourteen annotations by Giuseppe Mozzagrugno, which are noted in the Italian text.

The book can be found in various libraries, especially in Italy, and in microfilm at the Widener Library of Harvard University.


DEDICATION

To the venerable Lady Juditta Matraini, the Most Worthy Abbess of the Monastery of Saint Bernard of Pisa.

Most dear venerable Cousin, you have very often requested of me and prayed with affectionate words, that I should wish to send you a writing of mine on some devout subject. So I had thought to reason with you (as a Virgin dedicated to Jesus Christ) of that Virgin who is the Queen of Virgins, Empress of the Angels, and Mother of the Most High God. But considering, then, how base is my rough and weak intelligence, and how much it differs from that so very high and sublime subject, I do not dare to open my mouth to proffer the most sacred praises to her, nor to try my hand at so lofty and difficult an undertaking. However, I realize, indeed, that every mortal creature and even the celestial creatures would never be enough to praise her sufficiently. Besides, I am frightened by those words that say praise is not beautiful in the mouth of the sinner. On the other hand, considering the profound humility of this most

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