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Journal > Volumes > 47 (2016) / 1 (Spring)
Teaching Ignatian Spirituality to Rich and Poor Girls Through Dramatic Performance in Seventeenth-Century Florence
Jennifer Haraguchi
Brigham Young University

Traditional studies of the role of the body in the spiritual practices of Counter-Reformation Italy have focused primarily on methods of degrading the body, such as fasting and self-flagellation, which early modern practitioners believed would bring the soul nearer to the divine. This study of the performance of the verse hagiographies of the Florentine educator Eleonora Ramirez di Montalvo (1602–59), in the lay conservatories she founded, emphasizes the importance ofdenigrating the body through self-abasement, and yet it reveals that spiritual training of the soul could also include a celebration of the body through acting and singing. Drawing on unexamined documents from Florentine archives, this article demonstrates that the critical tendency to focus on the negation of the body in the early modern period does not always provide a complete understanding of the affirmative role the body could serve in the spiritual practices of early modern women.

Pages: 25 - 51