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Annotated Bibliography for Cecilia Ferrazzi

From Women in European History

Annotated Bibliography


1.) Ferrazzi, Cecilia. Autobiography of an Aspiring Saint. Trans. Anne Schutte. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996)

2.) Monter, William, "Protestant Wives, Catholic Saints, and the Devil's Handmaid: Women in the Age of Reformations.” In Becoming Visible: Women in European History. Eds. Renate Bridenthal et al. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987) pp. 201-19.

In this essay, Monter discusses the relationship between the ideology of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations and the growing levels of violence directed towards women during the early modern era. He argues that women were increasingly defined by their domestic roles during the Reformation period. Since Monter claims that early modern Europe was a “fear-ridden world,” widows, single mothers, and other independent women aroused the suspicion of their neighbors because they lived outside of the “natural” patriarchal nuclear family, that is, outside of male supervision, and thus they were disproportionately the recipients of violence during the Age of Reformations. These ideas apply to Cecilia Ferrazzi because, aside from her confessors, she essentially lived outside the authority of men and supposedly even acted as a confessor to some of those whom she governed. Therefore, she might have been singled out by her neighbors and the Inquisition for this ability to live outside the accepted norms of society.

3.) Martin, John. “Out of the Shadow: Heretical and Catholic Women in Renaissance Venice.” Journal of Family History 10 (1985): pp. 21-33.

In this article, Martin observes manners in which Catholic and heretical women in Renaissance Venice responded to the subordinate positions given to them by the patriarchy. He demonstrates that there was more to early modern women’s lives than the domestic sphere and that they were able to express themselves both through conventional Catholic methods or heretical means. In fact, the Catholic Church, far from being an oppressive force in women’s lives, often liberated women because it protected them from violence and abuse from their husbands or other men. This article provides useful context for the social milieu of the period and shows how Cecilia Ferrazzi could define herself outside the realm of domesticity, yet simultaneously straddle the line between orthodoxy and heresy.

4.) Schutte, Anne. Aspiring Saints: Pretense of Holiness, Inquisition, and Gender in the Republic of Venice, 1618-1750. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001)

In this book, Schutte examines several cases in which people were found by the Inquisition guilty of the crime of pretense of holiness, that is, feigning holiness or sainthood. From these cases, Schutte draws various conclusions including similarities between aspiring saints and the evolution of criteria for sainthood. This book provides useful context in the form of other examples of the pretense of holiness as well as interesting ideas on the concept of sainthood. Therefore, one is able to obtain a better understanding of the importance of aspiring saints and Cecilia Ferrazzi’s life as a whole.

5.) Waterworth, James. Ed. and Trans. The canons and decrees of the sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent. (London: Dolman, 1848)

The Council of Trent, as a key manifestation of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, defined orthodox Church teachings and forms of heresy. In particular, with regard to women, the Council outlined appropriate conduct for regulars and nuns during the twenty fifth session. As such, the lines between orthodoxy and heresy were now more precisely defined and when the Church began to enforce the decrees of the Council of Trent, those who had once existed outside the system were slowly brought into it under the oversight of male priests. Naturally, Cecilia Ferrazzi’s situation would have been undesirable to the Church and cast suspicion upon her as she was a lay person, living under a rule, providing religious instruction to other women. Therefore, the decrees of the Council of Trent provide useful context to the period and help explain the objectives of the Roman Inquisition.

6.) Cohen, Sherrill. The Evolution of Women’s Asylums since 1500: From Refugees for Ex-Prostitutes to Shelters for Battered Women. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)

In this book, Cohen describes the institutions for women in which they were able to avoid “losing their honor” in early modern Italy that arose concurrently with the Counter-Reformation. Initially, these shelters provided a home for women who did not want to or could not marry or become nuns so that they did not have to become or remain prostitutes. Later, they became a place for abused women as well. Given that Cecilia Ferrazzi was a governess and founder of several institutions like these homes, it is important to understand them in order to obtain a better conception of both Cecilia and early modern Italian women in general.

7.) St. Teresa of Avila. The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself. Trans. J.M. Cohen. (London: Penguin Books, 1957)

The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself is an autobiography in which Teresa of Avila, who later becomes a saint, at the behest of her confessor, writes an account of her life so as to demonstrate her adherence to Catholic orthodoxy. Her account is important to our understanding of Cecilia Ferrazzi because Cecilia and others attempted to emulate the life of St. Teresa of Avila in order to become saints. In her autobiography, Cecilia likens herself to St. Teresa and therefore she seems to believe that there are clear similarities in their experiences. Moreover, the fact that Cecilia Ferrazzi did not become a saint whereas Teresa of Avila did could help reveal Catholic expectations for sainthood.

Other Sources

8.) "Martin Luther." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 08 May. 2009 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/351950/Martin-Luther>.

9.) Wiesner-Hanks, Merry, E. Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

10.) Homza, Lu Ann. Ed and Trans. The Spanish Inquisition 1478-1614: An Anthology of Sources. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2006)

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