Women and Religious Life in Byzantiumby Alice-Mary Talbot
After an introductory general essay on the life cycle and status of women in Byzantine society, this volume focuses on female religious life, with particular emphasis on the role of convents - as spiritual sanctuary, refuge for women in need, or provider of charitable services. Several essays compare Byzantine nunneries with male monasteries, pointing out the relatively small size and lack of intellectual and artistic activity in convents, and more rigorous rules of enclosure and stability. Such phenomena as double monasteries, the conversion of a monastery to a nunnery, and women's economic and spiritual ties with Mount Athos are also examined. Other articles investigate issues of female sanctity and sanctification, analyzing types of women saints, women during the era of iconoclasm, and the role of the family in promoting the cult of a holy woman. In addition there are studies on healing shrines in Constantinople in the middle Byzantine and Palaiologan periods, and the resurgence of hagiographical writing in the late Byzantine era, particularly the reworking of the vitae of older saints.
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