In the climate of religious excitement surrounding the Bianchi movement of 1399, the keepers of the Tuscan shrine of Santa Maria a Cigoli tried to attract a regional following for their shrine by manipulating a young visionary, a shepherd girl. Close examination of their efforts sheds new light on the means by which local cuits were promoted, the role of female visionaries in late medieval religion, and the relationship between such visionaries and representatives of the clergy. That relationship could be exploitative, as this case confirms. But as this case also makes clear, occasional instances of exploitation do not imply hostility or disjunction between clergy and laity. Rather, it suggests that many religious attitudes were widely shared among rich and poor, learned and illiterate, clerics and laymen, dwellers in town and countryside at the end of the Middle Ages.
The shrine of Santa Maria a Cigoli : female visionaries and clerical promoters
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Mélanges de l'Ecole française de Rome. Moyen-Age, Temps modernes