Franciscan Women: Female Identities and Religious Culture

The Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University has published a new volume titled “Franciscan Women: Female Identities and Religious Culture, Medieval and Beyond.”

Edited by SBU Associate Professor of Theology and Franciscan Studies, Fr. David B. Couturier, O.F.M. Cap., and chair of Marquette University’s History Department, Dr. Lezlie Knox, the volume collects papers originally presented at an innovative conference sponsored by the Franciscan Institute in 2016. That meeting brought cutting-edge academic research into dialogue with the experience of those living in the Franciscan tradition as sisters, friars and affiliated laity.

Each author presents case studies of “the wide-ranging expressions of female Franciscan identities, the agency of women to shape their vocations, and their contributions to shaping Franciscan and spiritual traditions,” said Knox, co-editor of the volume.

The book collects experiences of Franciscan women in the Medieval period and beyond that helped them to construct new ways to see God with new forms of freedom and new manners in which to serve God with dignity. These women did this in spaces made for divine intimacy and social engagement in ways that were subversive for the time but augured new opportunities for the future.

Fr. David said the book has a timeless message. “We need voices and models of how adaptation and liberation work when suffering, especially social suffering, becomes intense and indeed excruciating. The women profiled in this book are these witnesses of grace,” he said.

“Franciscan Women” has been dedicated to the memory of Sr. Ingrid Peterson, OSF, a scholar who founded the Women in the Franciscan Tradition research group. She was the winner of the 2000 Franciscan Institute Medal.

The book is available here.