Session Title

New Approaches to the Helfta Nuns and Their Contemporaries

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Vernacular Devotional Cultures Group

Organizer Name

Catherine Annette Grisé

Organizer Affiliation

McMaster Univ.

Presider Name

Barbara Zimbalist

Presider Affiliation

Univ. of Texas-El Paso

Paper Title 1

God in the Book: Rethinking Corporeality in the Helfta Mystics

Presenter 1 Name

Jessica Barr

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Massachusetts-Amherst

Paper Title 2

Anselmian Atonement Theory and Bridal Mysticism: The Purgatorial Piety of the Nuns of Helfta

Presenter 2 Name

Anna Harrison

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Loyola Marymount Univ.

Paper Title 3

"Ir Heimlich Freunde": Friendship among Women in Medieval German Convents

Presenter 3 Name

Robin K. Pokorski

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Northwestern Univ.

Paper Title 4

Respondent

Presenter 4 Name

Barbara Newman

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Northwestern Univ.

Start Date

14-5-2017 8:30 AM

Session Location

Valley III Stinson 306

Description

In the second half of the thirteenth century, the female monastery of Helfta played a significant role in the cultivation of Western European mysticism. The circle of nuns comprising three visionaries and their abbess—Mechtild of Hackeborn (1240-1298), Gertrud the Great of Helfta (1256-1302), Mechtild of Magdeburg (1207-1282/94, a beguine who joined Helfta later in life), and Gertrud of Hackeborn (1232-1292, Abbess of Helfta and sister of Mechtild), respectively—were responsible for several important visionary treatises (including Liber Specialis Gratiae, The Book of Special Grace, and Das fließende Licht der Gottheit, The Flowing Light of Divinity) that defined German mysticism for their time: for example, they developed nuptial mysticism using imagery of holy women as Brides of Christ, and dedicated themselves to the Devotion of the Sacred Heart as part of their active program of female education, piety, and community. This interdisciplinary session will allow scholars and students to showcase recent research on the Helfta nuns and explore how these holy women expanded and changed traditional paradigms, as well as to compare this material with that of other late-medieval mystics.

Barbara Zimbalist

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May 14th, 8:30 AM

New Approaches to the Helfta Nuns and Their Contemporaries

Valley III Stinson 306

In the second half of the thirteenth century, the female monastery of Helfta played a significant role in the cultivation of Western European mysticism. The circle of nuns comprising three visionaries and their abbess—Mechtild of Hackeborn (1240-1298), Gertrud the Great of Helfta (1256-1302), Mechtild of Magdeburg (1207-1282/94, a beguine who joined Helfta later in life), and Gertrud of Hackeborn (1232-1292, Abbess of Helfta and sister of Mechtild), respectively—were responsible for several important visionary treatises (including Liber Specialis Gratiae, The Book of Special Grace, and Das fließende Licht der Gottheit, The Flowing Light of Divinity) that defined German mysticism for their time: for example, they developed nuptial mysticism using imagery of holy women as Brides of Christ, and dedicated themselves to the Devotion of the Sacred Heart as part of their active program of female education, piety, and community. This interdisciplinary session will allow scholars and students to showcase recent research on the Helfta nuns and explore how these holy women expanded and changed traditional paradigms, as well as to compare this material with that of other late-medieval mystics.

Barbara Zimbalist