Edited By Flocel Sabaté
De aquestes raons de la Senyora, los apòstols e Magdalena e les altres dones prengueren molta consolació: Establishing Female Identity through the Virgin’s words in the Vita Christi of Sor Isabel de Villena: Lesley Twomey
It has often been said that a key aspect of Sor Isabel de Villena’s Vita Christi (Life of Christ) makes it stand out from other examples of the genre and that is the pride of place given to women, particularly the way in which Villena valorizes a multiplicity of female voices, including those of St Anne, Eve, the allegorical female figures (Faith, Hope, Charity), and St Mary Magdalene.1 Albert Hauf terms this the intención feminista of the Vita Christi.2
In this article I will contrast the raons or words of the Virgin in a number of Vitae Christi and Passion poems, focusing in particular on her planctus, in order to distinguish the features which particularly characterize female words in Isabel de Villena’s Vita Christi. Hauf3 has argued that Villena worked closely with various Vitae Christi, having before her the Meditationes Vitae Christi of John of Caulibus, and also the Vida de Jesucrist by her fellow Franciscan, Francesc Eiximenis, and she may also have known Ludolph of Saxony’s Vita ← 53 | 54 → Christi.4 She may have had sight of others, such as Joan Roís or Roïç de Corella’s translation of the Vita Christi, Quart del Cartoixà, for even though the Quart del Cartoixà was published after her death (1495), it was doubtless in circulation prior to that date in manuscript form. Hauf5 compares various sections of the Passion narrative from Eiximenis’s Vida de Jesucrist, from Meditationes Vitae Christi, from Ubertino...
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