Constitutions of the Nuns of St. Mary Magdalene

1503-c. 1510
Italy, Siena
manuscript on vellum bound in a blind stamped binding with an early 16th century Sienese painting; 68 folios
233 x 162 mm

Religious communities of women held an important role in the social history of Siena because remarkable percentages of the female population (10–12%) lived in convents. Although their activities in the convents are not always very well documented, manuscripts such as this rare copy of the Ceremonial and Tonary created by the nuns of St. Mary Magdalene of the Hermits of St. Augustine give us a glimpse into their lives. The object is an example of a manuscript that was made by and for medieval women, and it includes not only the chant and liturgy but also chapters which outline the rules that governed the daily life in one of the most illustrious convents in Renaissance Siena.

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Sam Fogg
Art of the Middle Ages