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Catalogue of Living Saints (1400-1550): Towards a Complete Corpus of a Female Hagiographic Model (Ref. PID2019-104237GB-I00; 2020-2024) is a research project funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación of the Spanish Government, directed by Rebeca Sanmartín Bastida, which aims to develop the Catalogue of “Living Saints”, an online wiki catalogue which provides knowledge on the lives of Castilian women previous to Saint Teresa who acquired a reputation for holiness in their time. The term "living saints" was coined by G. Zarri for a similar female paradigm in Italy, influential in religion as well as in politics. The lives of these "holy" women, that show a great contact between court and convent, contribute to better understand the history of women. The collected lives appeared in manuscripts of the 15th-16th centuries and in handwritten and printed chronicles of religious orders in 17th century Castile and in other works (conventual books) or compendiums containing lives of saints (flos sanctorum). Thus, this project recovers several texts that have never been printed and most that were never edited independently.

Female spiritual authority was embodied especially in visionary women between 1400 and 1550. Although they are still quite unknown today outside the scope of the history of the Church, in their times these "living saints" enjoyed social leadership. The new paradigm they established was specially marked by Catherine of Siena and in some cases responded to a "catherinian" movement sponsored by the followers of Jerome Savonarola, in which the gift of prophecy and monastic reform were promoted. Following a pattern of feminine holiness in Europe, which dated back to the 13th century and was based on extreme fasting, intense penance and eucharistic ecstasy, and embodied in beguines in Central Europe and beatas and tertiaries in the Mediterranean, the living saints added stigmata to other charisms since Catherine of Siena’s success. These visionary women gave fame to houses and convents that would win economic resources, but despite their reputation they were never canonized, even in cases where it was attempted. Surely the current lack of knowledge on these figures is due to the process of cloistering initiated at the beginning of the 16th century and the intensified control and surveillance caused by the “alumbrados”. However, a fertile field remained connecting the time of Teresa and the Countereformation with her predecessors.

This Project is a continuation of The Emergence of Spiritual Female Authority, a research funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad and by FEDER funds (Ref. FFI2015-63625-C2-2-P; 2016-2019), in which the Catalogue was created and which derives from a first proyect directed by Sanmartín, The Construction of Female Sanctity and Visionary Discourse (15th-17th Centuries): Analysis and Recovery of Conventual Writing (Ref. FFI2012-32073). 

Read paper "Digital visionary women: introducing the “Catalogue of Living Saints”, by Pablo Acosta-García and Rebeca Sanmartín Bastida.

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