Carlo Delcorno

Religious Literature and Medieval Society

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Medieval religious texts were an important source of linguistic and philological study from the sixteenth century. An extensive field of research and a new methodological approach were disclosed by some prominent scholars in the twentieth century (De Luca, Getto, Pozzi and Miccoli). Both collective historical works (e.g. "Storia d'Italia", including Miccoli's "Storia religiosa") and a general survey of Italian literature show an increasing interest in the religious mentality and practice. Moreover, women's studies have inspired a series of important publications on female forms of religion. Several studies have demonstrated that religious patterns, particularly biblical sources, inspired the major writers in the fourteenth century (Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio). The bulk of the research concerns the texts that directly expressed the spirituality and the hopes of lay people, usually led by the Mendicant friars. This includes reportationes of vernacular sermons, hagiographical and biblical translations, religious poetry, religious plays ("sacre rappresentazioni") and the multifaceted mystical literature, mainly produced by women (letters, tractates, visions). Collections of "volgarizzamenti" ("renderings in the vulgar tongue"), databases, critical editions, monographs on particular figures and moments in the religious experience (e.g. the meetings dedicated to the Poor Clares of Franciscan Observance), which are currently in preparation, will be the premise for a more detailed and objective survey of medieval religious literature.


  • Religious Literature
  • Mendicant Orders
  • Vernacular Translation


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