Special Issue "Monastic Identities and Boundaries in the Medieval West"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Steven Vanderputten
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of History, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Interests: social and cultural history of the Latin West in the Early and Central Middle Ages; religious communities; monasticism; reform; collective identities; memory; gender

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Religions aims to expand the modern understanding of “medieval monasticism” by looking at the flexibility of medieval representations of the monastic life. Beginning in late antiquity and continuing throughout the medieval period, monastic identities were subject to continuous definition and redefinition. This took place for individuals, for whole communities, and at the level of entire movements, congregations, and orders. The results can be found in identity accounts that were embedded in narrative texts, rules, iconographic representations, clothing, arrangements of space, and a wide range of other forms. These accounts of self deserve attention, and scholars are invited to consider them with respect to the following four areas. One is that of an author’s, artist’s, designer’s, builder’s, etc. perception and representation of the distinctive nature of his or her particular strand of monastic life. The second is the relationship of these identity accounts to the specific ideological, cultural, socio-economic, and institutional contexts in which they were created. The third area is the impact of identity accounts and practices on subsequent perceptions within a particular community, congregation, or order. And finally, there is the question of how these narratives helped establish clear conceptual or practice-based boundaries with other forms of monastic life and with the “secular world” in general. For this Special Issue, prospective authors are invited to submit studies on any of the four themes above, with particular attention to how their findings relate to (and possibly correct) the modern understanding of monastic identities and boundaries. The ultimate aim is to help with developing a more flexible, dynamic, and less-unified understanding of medieval monasticism as a spiritual, social, and institutional phenomenon.

Prof. Dr. Steven Vanderputten
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • medieval monasticism
  • identities
  • representation
  • narratives of identity

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Radical Succession: Hagiography, Reform, and Franciscan Identity in the Convent of the Abbess Juana de la Cruz (1481–1534)
Religions 2021, 12(3), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030223 - 23 Mar 2021
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In this article, I study in depth the first vita of the Franciscan Tertiary abbess Juana de la Cruz (Vida y fin de la bienaventurada virgen sancta Juana de la Cruz, written c. 1534), examining it as a chronicle that narrativizes [...] Read more.
In this article, I study in depth the first vita of the Franciscan Tertiary abbess Juana de la Cruz (Vida y fin de la bienaventurada virgen sancta Juana de la Cruz, written c. 1534), examining it as a chronicle that narrativizes the origins and reform of a specific religious community in the Castile of the Catholic Monarchs. I argue that Vida y fin constitutes an account that was collectively written inside the walls of the enclosure that can help us understand themes, motifs, and symbolic Franciscan elements that were essential for the self-definition of its original textual community. I first discuss the narrative of the convent’s foundation and then examine the penitential identity of the community, highlighting the inspiration that Juana’s hagiography takes from the infancy of Caterina da Siena, as described in the Legenda maior by Raimondo da Capua, and analyzing to what extent the represented penitential practices related to the imitatio Christi reflect a Franciscan Tertiary identity in opposition to a Dominican one. Finally, I address the passages in which the hagiographer(s) discuss(es) the sense of belonging to the Franciscan order rather than the Dominicans, and the mystical figure of Francesco d’Assisi as a founder, guide, and exemplar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monastic Identities and Boundaries in the Medieval West)
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