Death, dying, and mysticism : the ecstasy of the end by Cattoi, Thomas; Moreman, Christopher M

By Cattoi, Thomas; Moreman, Christopher M

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Open the door and bring her in. ”20 Thomas was clearly concerned with explaining why and how a lay woman could have been allowed proximity to Francis at his death. Jacopa’s special qualifications for this honor of presence at Francis’s death were established at the beginning of the chapter: “Jacopa dei Settesoli, equal in fame and holiness in the city of Rome, earned the privilege of special love from the saint. ” Given her noble rank and special spiritual status, Jacopa was given the privilege of holding Francis’s body after his death, “All wet with tears, Lady Jacopa and Francis 23 she was brought in private and alone, and the body of her friend was placed in her arms.

2, Q. 16, in Bonventurae Opera Omnis 8 (Quarrachi: Collegium S. Bonaventurae, 1898), 368–369. Jacopa’s temporal power and familial connections with the archenemy of the papal Conti family have led some scholars, including Carol Reilley Urner, to posit political reasons for the omission of Jacopa’s story especially from official vitae. Even if Jacopa began forging her own independent political path once she became a widow by 1212, as is evidenced by the treaty she signed with the papacy in 1217, she may still have been seen as too volatile a figure to be included in a work such as Thomas of Celano’s first vita, commissioned as it was by Pope Gregory IX, a member of the Conti family.

Crafting the routine feminine care of the dying Francis as a miracle not only preserves the reputation of Francis as someone who normally kept his distance from women, but also prevented the story from becoming a model of behavior, lest other friars and laywomen take up similarly intimate friendships. Protecting the reputations of both Jacopa and Francis was also a byproduct of the second common feature of the vitae, namely the emphasis placed on Jacopa’s special renown, having both social prestige as a distinguished Roman noble woman and having a special capacity for virtue and spiritual renown.

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