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Journal > Volumes > 38 (2007) / 2 (Summer)
Savonarolan Witnesses: The Nuns of San Jacopo and the Piagnone Movement in Sixteenth-Century Florence
Sharon T. Strocchia
Emory University

The unpublished necrology kept by the Observant Dominican nuns of San Jacopo in Florence warrants closer study for its unexpected relation to the Savonarolan movement. Begun in 1508, ten years after Savonarola’s execution, this register narrated powerful stories focused on illness and dying, casting suffering nuns who made a “good death” as spiritual exemplars of the Savonarolan movement. This article argues that the necrology took on the politicized task of sustaining the prophet’s cult at San Jacopo and forming new nuns in the Savonarolan tradition during years of suppression by church and state officials. In response to heated internecine controversies, the San Marco friars responsible for the nuns’ supervision promoted traditional, gendered values when praising the dead, ascribing to nuns only a limited role in religious renewal. The new archival evidence presented here strengthens the case for the preacher’s continued influence in Florentine religious life until the end of the sixteenth century, and shows how the San Marco friars disciplined their female followers as they struggled to define and control the Savonarolan legacy.

Pages: 393 - 418