English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century

Living spirituality

By Laurence Lux-Sterritt

English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
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Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1005-3
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00 (incl. VAT)
  • Published Date: March 2017
  • BIC Category: General & world history, European history, 17th century, c 1600 to c 1699, History, Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic Church, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic Church, Humanities / British & Irish history, Humanities / History of religion, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies, HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century, RELIGION / Christianity / Catholic, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, History of religion


This study of English Benedictine nuns is based upon a wide variety of original manuscripts, including chronicles, death notices, clerical instructions, texts of spiritual guidance, but also the nuns' own collections of notes. It highlights the tensions between the contemplative ideal and the nuns' personal experiences, illustrating the tensions between theory and practice in the ideal of being dead to the world. It shows how Benedictine convents were both cut-off and enclosed yet very much in touch with the religious and political developments at home, but also proposes a different approach to the history of nuns, with a study of emotions and the senses in the cloister, delving into the textual analysis of the nuns' personal and communal documents to explore aspect of a lived spirituality, when the body which so often hindered the spirit, at times enabled spiritual experience.


'This is a patiently written, accessible book that pleasingly foregrounds the religious experience of exiled english nuns; its focus on one order a particular strength rather than indicative of any narrowness. In short, it is a wholly welcome addition to the recent historiographical movement.'
James E. Kelly,Durham University, Catholic Historical Review Vol 103, no 4, Autumn 2017


Laurence Lux-Sterritt is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at Aix-Marseille University, France and a member of the Research Centre on the English-Speaking World (LERMA)


Notes on transcription and translation
List of nuns cited
Brief notes on Benedictine convents in exile
Brief notes on the main archives used
1. The contemplative ideal of dying to the world
2. When spiritual and secular families overlap
3. The secular concerns of contemplatives
4. The missionary spirit of enclosed nuns
5. Taming worldly emotions and appetites
6. Divine love, an emotional panacea?
7. What place for the senses in contemplative life?
8. Illness, death and beyond: the body as witness

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