Revealing the Host

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022159/00001

Material Information

Title: Revealing the Host Image and Space in Italian Clarissan Churches, 13th to 14th century
Physical Description: 1 online resource (91 p.)
Language: english
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008


Subjects / Keywords: clare, eucharist, franciscan, host, poor
Art and Art History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Art History thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: The order of the Poor Clares was instituted by Saint Clare of Assissi to be the sister organization to the Franciscans. The nuns were subject to two mandates of enclosure: the first from Clare at the establishment of the order and the second from Pope Boniface VIII in 1298. As a result of these mandates, Clarissan churches needed to facilitate the separation of the nuns' private area and the laity's public area while still maintaining an overall spatial unity. The appropriation and modification of existing buildings was a common feature of Clarissan structures and has hindered scholars' ability to understand their use of space and architectural features. The churches Santa Chiara of Assisi, Santa Maria Donna Regina, and Santa Chiara of Naples were all built expressly for the Poor Clares and maintain the necessary separation. Contemporaneous with the establishment of these churches, religious trends emphasized the sacrament of the Eucharist, specifically the role of the Host. The doctrine of Transubstantiation confirmed the presence of the body of Christ in the consecrated Host, and as a result, the Host became the primary image of the church. Visual restrictions limited the nuns' access to the ritual surrounding the Host, but the prevalence of Passion narratives in the nuns' choir suggests an attempt to reconcile their visual handicap. An analysis of image and space will elucidate how the nuns interacted with their space as opposed to the experience of the laity and how the Host became the unifying element between the two audiences.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Ross, Elizabeth.
Local: Co-adviser: Westin, Robert H.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022159:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022159/00001

Material Information

Title: Revealing the Host Image and Space in Italian Clarissan Churches, 13th to 14th century
Physical Description: 1 online resource (91 p.)
Language: english
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008


Subjects / Keywords: clare, eucharist, franciscan, host, poor
Art and Art History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Art History thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: The order of the Poor Clares was instituted by Saint Clare of Assissi to be the sister organization to the Franciscans. The nuns were subject to two mandates of enclosure: the first from Clare at the establishment of the order and the second from Pope Boniface VIII in 1298. As a result of these mandates, Clarissan churches needed to facilitate the separation of the nuns' private area and the laity's public area while still maintaining an overall spatial unity. The appropriation and modification of existing buildings was a common feature of Clarissan structures and has hindered scholars' ability to understand their use of space and architectural features. The churches Santa Chiara of Assisi, Santa Maria Donna Regina, and Santa Chiara of Naples were all built expressly for the Poor Clares and maintain the necessary separation. Contemporaneous with the establishment of these churches, religious trends emphasized the sacrament of the Eucharist, specifically the role of the Host. The doctrine of Transubstantiation confirmed the presence of the body of Christ in the consecrated Host, and as a result, the Host became the primary image of the church. Visual restrictions limited the nuns' access to the ritual surrounding the Host, but the prevalence of Passion narratives in the nuns' choir suggests an attempt to reconcile their visual handicap. An analysis of image and space will elucidate how the nuns interacted with their space as opposed to the experience of the laity and how the Host became the unifying element between the two audiences.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Ross, Elizabeth.
Local: Co-adviser: Westin, Robert H.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022159:00001

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2 2008 Emily C. Pfeiffer


3 To my mom: you are my sunshine.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would first like to thank Dr. Elizabeth Ross and Dr. Robert Westin, of my Supervisory Comm ittee, for their continua l guidance and support through out this process. The encouragement, laughter, and positive outlook supplied by both, Miss Ca rrie Salazar and Miss Kasey Hansen, has proven indispensable. The support of J. Peyton Bell, Brianna Anderson, and my fellow graduate students (N.S., M.M., B.J., K.H., C.S., E.M., K.R.) was invaluable in the conception of this work. Special thanks go to Mr. Scott McCabe, a continual source of inspiration and encouragement. I cannot suffici ently thank my mother, Diane Pfeiffer, whose unconditional love and support made this possible. Additionally, I would lik e to thank my loving grandparents, Sally and Seaman Stapley and Leo a nd Clare Pfeiffer, who al ways believed in me. Lastly, I thank my lucky Penny.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................6 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................................8 2 FRANCIS AND CLARE AND ROLE OF ENCLOSURE.................................................... 14 Francis of Assisi.............................................................................................................. .......14 Saint Francis Views on Art and Poverty............................................................................... 17 Clare of Assisi................................................................................................................ .........19 Periculoso and Implications of Enclosure.............................................................................. 26 3 HOST AS IMAGE: OBSERV ANCE AND ACESSIBILITY ............................................... 34 The Role of the Host...............................................................................................................35 History of the Eucharist..........................................................................................................38 San Damiano...........................................................................................................................41 Franciscan View of Art and Architecture............................................................................... 46 4 DEVELOPMENT OF CLARISSIAN ART AND ARCHITECTURE.................................. 49 Santa Chiara, Assisi........................................................................................................... .....49 Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples........................................................................................ 58 Santa Chiara, Naples........................................................................................................... ....76 5 CONCLUSION..................................................................................................................... ..81 APPENDIX LIST OF ART WORKS CITED.................................................................................................... 84 LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................................................................87 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................91


6 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Arts REVEALING THE HOST: IMAGE AND SPACE IN ITALIAN CLARISSAN CHURCHES, 13TH TO 14TH CENTURY By Emily C. Pfeiffer May 2008 Chair: Elizabeth Ross Cochair: Robert Westin Major: Art History The order of the Poor Clares was instituted by Saint Clare of Assissi to be the sister organization to the Franciscans. The nuns were s ubject to two mandates of enclosure: the first from Clare at the establishment of the order and the second from Pope Boniface VIII in 1298. As a result of these mandates, Cl arissan churches needed to faci litate the separation of the nuns private area and the laitys public area while still maintaining an ove rall spatial unity. The appropriation and modification of existing bui ldings was a common feature of Clarissan structures and has hindered scholar s ability to understand their use of space and architectural features. The churches Santa Chiara of Assisi, Santa Maria Donna Regina, and Santa Chiara of Naples were all built expressly for the Poor Cl ares and maintain the necessary separation. Contemporaneous with the establishment of these churches, religious trends emphasized the sacrament of the Eucharist, specifically the role of the Host. The doctrine of Transubstantiation confirmed the presence of the body of Christ in the consecrated Host, and as a result, the Host became the primary image of the church. Visual re strictions limited the nuns access to the ritual surrounding the Host, but the prevalence of Passi on narratives in the nuns choir suggests an


7 attempt to reconcile their visual handicap. An an alysis of image and space will elucidate how the nuns interacted with their space as opposed to the experience of the laity and how the Host became the unifying element between the two audiences.


8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The Order o f the Poor Clares was created by Clar e of Assisi to be the sister organization of the Franciscans.1 The Poor Clares struggled to maintain their connection to the Franciscan order, and their dedication to these trad itions can be seen through the Clares adherence to the accepted practices of the order and writings which were cr eated specifically for them. One of the mandates set forward from the beginning of foundation of th e order was enclosure, which originated with the proclamation of clausera mandated by Clare and solidified by the papal bull of Periculoso in 1298. This statute of enclosure dictated that the sp aces of the convent and church maintain strict separation between the public space of the laity a nd the personal space of the sisters. Clarissan convent space was articulated in such a way as to maintain both public and private spaces, yet retain a spatial unity. The analysis of both devotional images and architectural space clearly illustrates how this was accomplished. In addition, it can be seen how these spaces were designed to ensure that the reli gious needs of the nuns could be facilitated de spite the nuns segregation. The churches Santa Chiara of Assi si, Santa Maria Donna Regina of Naples, and Santa Chiara of Naples all provide fundamental ex amples of Clarissan stru ctures that were built with the express purpose of providing for both public and private audiences. 1 I would like to acknowledge the works of several scholars, without whose research, this thesis would not have been possible. Jeryldene Wood and Carolyn Bruzelius have la rgely contributed to the ar eas of Clarissan art and architecture and serve as the primary so urces for descriptions of the buildings and works; of particular note are Woods work with San Damiano and Santa Chiara of Assisi and Bruzelius work with Santa Maria Donna Regina and Santa Chiara of Naples. Elizabeth Makowski has provided the first in depth study of Periculoso and as such will provide most information in regard to the strictures and emergence of the mandate. Samantha Kelly, Catherine Fleck, and Adrian Hoch have provided detailed readings and analysis of the frescoes of Santa Maria Donna Regina that serve to inform discussion of function and relation to the Host. Carolyn Walker Bynum provides a gendered reading of the Host that allows the relationship between the nuns and the Eucharist to be viewed more clearly. Bynum, as well as, Pelikan and Duffy, have provided insight into the change in Eucharistic practices of the middle ages that will be considered in relation to the nuns experience of the Host. The writings of Clare and Francis, as translated by Marco Bartoli and others, were essential to understanding of Franciscan ideas of faith and poverty. These readings provide a fundamental core the understanding of Clarissan images and space.


9 Scholars are only now beginning to res earch female monastic structures.2 While the Poor Clares have been represented in this researc h, insight into their build ings and art is still considerably lacking. The work of Caroline Bruzelius has provided much of our understanding of architectural features consiste ntly used in the womens struct ures, such as the nuns choir. Working mostly in Italy and more specifically in Naples, she has been able to trace the architectural developments of several key exampl es of Clarissan churches including Santa Maria Donna Regina and Santa Chiara of Naples.3 Scholarship regarding the ar t of the Poor Clares has been taken up largely by Jeryldene Wood. W ood has provided a compre hensive overview of Clarissan churches within Ital y and the artworks found therein.4 She draws parallels to possible sources of the art, in cluding writings like Meditations on the Life of Christ and established Franciscan philosophies. Her scholarship consiste ntly traces her findings back to the practices established by Clare and earlier examples of similar works. Cathleen Fleck has also considered the possible literary sources of Clarissan works of art, specifically in Santa Maria Donna Regina, but applicable to most Clarissan institutions. Based on her research, she has formed an argument for the es tablished visual literacy of the nuns and their ability to read and interpret images.5 This theory proves useful in evaluating the meditative 2 For a detailed account of sources dealing with the development of research on the Poor Clares and other female monastic orders see, Jeryldene Wood, Women, Art, & Spirituality: The Poor Clares of Early Modern Italy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 2. 3 Caroline Bruzelius, Hearing is Believing : Clarissian Architect ure ca. 1213340, Gesta 31.2 (1992): 83; Caroline Bruzelius, The Architectual Context of Santa Ma ria Donna Regina, in James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 782; Caroline Bruzelis, The Stones of Naples: Church Building in Angevin Italy (Connecticut: Yale University Press), 2004. 4 Jeryldene Wood, Women, Art, & Spirituality: The Poor Clares of Early Modern Italy (New York: Cambridge University Press), 1996. 5 Cathleen Fleck, To Exercise Yourself in These Things by Continued Contemplation: Visual and Textual Literacy in the Frescoes at Santa Maria Donna Regina, in Adrian S James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 1098.


10 effectiveness of the decorative narratives f ound in the nuns personal spaces. Samantha Kelly and Adrian Hoch have also provided valuable in sights into the general decorative schemes of Clarissan spaces, considering both the influen ce of patronage and Franciscan models of meditation.6 Ann Derbes and Hans Belting have both provided insights on the emergence and development of Passion imagery. Belting, focusing on the Man of Sorrows mo re than crucifixion images, has tracked the emotional developm ents in depictions of Christs death7, while Derbes has taken Beltings readings a step further by linking them to the emergence of the Franciscan order and the newly formed focus on Christs suffering and the viewers personal engagement.8 Finally, Caroline Bynam has provided the most co mprehensive reading of the meaning of the Host for religious women, arguing that womens gendered role in society made them more susceptible to the meaning of the Ho st, due to its association with food.9 By synthesizing the material provided by these authors, in additi on to many others, a comprehensive view of the interaction between the images and space of the Poor Clares can be formed. The study of late medieval Clar issan architecture has been hi ndered, especially in Italy, due to the fact that most Clarissan churches were not built specifically for the Poor Clares.10 Rather, the Order had a tendency to appropriate earlier, preexisting religious structures and alter 6 Adrian S. Hoch, The Passion Cycle: Images to Contem plate and Imitate Amid Clarissan Clausura, in Adrian S James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 12954; Samantha Kelly, Religious Patronage and Royal Propaganda in Angevin Naples: Santa Maria Donna Regina in Context in James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 2744. 7 Hans Belting, The Image and Its Public in the Middle Ages: Form and Function of Early Paintings of the Passion (New York: Aristide D. Caratzas), 1981. 8 Anne Derbes, Picturing the Passion in Late Med ieval Italy: Narrative Painting, Franciscan Ideologies and the Levant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 1996. 9 Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (California: University of California Press), 1988. 10 Caroline Bruzelius and Constance H. Berman, Monastic Architecture for Women: Introduction, Gesta 31.2 (1992): 7374.


11 them as needed to accommodate the nuns needs and strict rules of enclosure. Three of the most prominent exceptions to this trend are the church es of Santa Chiara, of Assisi, and Santa Maria Donna Regina and Santa Chiara, both of Naples. All of these churches are uni que in the fact that they were built specifically for the Poor Clares a nd as such can give the clearest idea of how space was considered and used by the order. Of particular interest in these structures is the placement and accessibility of the nuns choir in relation to the public worship space. Th e purpose of the choir was to provide an area in which the sisters were in proximity to the mass but out of the view of th e laity. The placement of a choir would have allowed the nuns to hear a nd be present for liturgical ceremonies, but would have obscured their view with the use of grates and strategic architectural planning. With the sisters kept from fully participating in the rituals, the narrative cycles and decorative elements found in the choirs would have played a fundame ntal role in the nuns religious experience. While the chuch would have provided provided the laity with images during ceremonies, the images in the nuns choir would have been select ed specifically for their meditative purposes. It has been shown that when these churches were being designed, male members of the order and patrons were consulted to ensure that each sp ace conveyed the appropriate information in an accessible way.11 Differences that occur in the representations between the public space of the church and the private spaces of the nuns w ill be examined. Those narrative cycles meant to be viewed solely by the sisters carry certain connotations which would have been relevant only to them, increasing their spiritual interactions and expe riences within the space. Targeting a female 11 Bruzelius, Caroline, The Church of Santa Maria Dona Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage in FourteenthCentury Naples, in Adrian S James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 78.


12 contingency with imagery is particularly eviden t in the Passion narrativ es of the nuns choir. Their placement can be traced to the increased si gnificance of the Eucharist in the late medieval period.12 Earlier associations of the Eucharist as a reenactment of the Last Supper were displaced by the understanding that the rite recreated the sa crifice and resurrection of Christ. Increased importance was placed on the Host, and the id ea of transubstantiation was recognized and accepted by the Latin Church.13 The Host took on the role of primary image for the Church by displaying the physical body of Christ, thereby superceding all other images. An analysis of the nuns private decorative cycles will show that those images were to be viewed as supplemental to the Host and meant to increase their unders tanding and appreciation for it and its meaning. In looking at these cy cles, Franciscan texts will be taken into consideration, specifically the Meditations on the Life of Christ, which was written for the Poor Clares and addressed which epis odes and figures would lead th em to a better understanding of Christ. These texts illuminate the values and goa ls embraced by the order at the time, which were illustrated in their art. Larger narrative cycles of th e public space of the church a nd the different emphases that are found there will then be considered, for inst ance, the reliance on more Old Testament scenes rather than on the death and resurrection of Chri st. The differences in visual imagery reinforce the idea that the Host was becoming central to Christian worship. The Host would have been visible to the laity, making visual reminders of the sacrifice less important. Instead, decorative elements focused on other episodes from the life of Christ to create a narrative context for the 12 Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast 51. 13 Medieval Sourcebook: Twelfth Ecumen ical Council: Lateran IV 1215, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis /lateran4.html, (Paul Halsall: March, 1996). Accessed March 2008.


13 Host. The nuns, however, would not have been able to see the Host and therefore would have needed Passion images to reinforce the idea of Christs sacrifice. The Host then becomes central to both the pub lic and private spaces of the church. As will be shown with an analysis of the architectural developments of the nuns choir in the three churches, there is a consistent attempt to improve the Clarisses interactions with the Host. Santa Chiara of Naples, the latest of the three churches, provides the clearest example of how accommodations for viewing the Host were made. It is also in this structure that the centrality of the Host to the church and its occupants is ma de apparent by acting as a link between the two audiences and focusing all attention on one perfec t symbol. It will then be shown that for both areas, public and private, the Host served the ro le of primary image and was used symbolically and physically to connect the two spaces.


14 CHAPTER 2 FRANCIS AND CLARE AND ROLE OF ENCLOSURE Francis of Assisi In the twelf th and thirteenth centuries, monasticism experienced a surge of spiritual growth and experimentation. Many new re ligious sects were being ini tiated while at the same time masses of individuals were hoping to join already established orders In the city of Assisi, the end of the twelfth century marked a time of politi cal and social upheaval. Located in the Spoleto Valley and marking the principal route between Ravenna and Rome, Assisi held a crucial position sought simultaneously by the Normans, Germans, and Papal State for strategic advantage.1 The Germans, to the North, felt that th eir succession of the Holy Roman Empire afforded them the right to power in the Italian Peninsula. The Normans, who at that time still maintained power over the Southern Sicilian Stat es, were attempting to expand their influence. Meanwhile, the Papacy adamantly desired to maintain control of the central Italian states and prevent a union between the North and South.2 In addition to the political pressure exerted by these outside forces, Assisi faced internal conflict. The Feudal system that was in place ha d never been fully reali zed and caused discontent between the classes, the Majores and the Minores. This conflict widened the social gaps in the city and cemented the staunch social hierarchies that governed the city.3 The appearance of St. Francis in Assisi offered the community an alte rnative perspective on soci al relations and had a significant impact on those who heard his preaching. Despite the radi calism of his teachings and 1 Marco Bartoli, Clare of Assisi (Illinois: Franciscan Press, 1993), 9. 2 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 9.. 3 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 9.


15 challenges by members of the church, his views gained currency because of the positive effect they had on the volatile society. Francis of Assisi was the son of the wealt hy textile merchant Pietro di Bernardone. On February 24, 1208, at the church of Santa Mari a degli Angeli, Francis heard a sermon on the missionary aspects of Matthews Gospel, chose to dedicate his life to God, and began his life as a traveling preacher.4 Francis traveled alone for a period of time before returning to Assisi to repair three ruined churches: San Pietro, San Damiano, and the Portincula. He financed these repairs solely through funds procured through begging.5 He spoke compassionately of despising the world and living a life of poverty and penance. Soon after his travels, Francis had acquired a group of followers whom he termed his broth ers. Francis group gained popularity quickly because of his emphasis on poverty, humility, and patient suffering. Rather than focus on the typical social hierarchy of th e church, Marco Bartoli says Francis proposed the idea of brotherhood in a city that was divided and emerged as a peacemaker.6 Despite the fact that his preaching went against the foundations of the mona stic and feudal structure, both engrained in strict hierarchical systems, it was accepted for its quelling effects on societal unrest.7 Francis preaching of poverty created equality among the social classes, and the term brother solidified that belief by creating a faux familial connection. As Francis following grew he created Rules said to consist mainly of quotes from the Holy Gospel to which he wished his disciples to aspire, for his order and submitted them to Pope 4 Regis J Armstrong and Ignatius C. Brady, Francis and Clare: The Complete Works (New York: Paulist Press, 1982), 4. 5Adrian House, Francis of Assisi (New Jersey: Hidden Spring, 2001), 6466. 6 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 10. 7 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 10.


16 Innocent III in 1221.8 The original document that was submitted has been lost, but in contemporary biographies, such as that of Thomas of Celano, it is said that the Pope was uneasy about Francis limitations. Pope Innocent III apparently felt the condition of the Rules to be too harsh and did not acquiesce re adily to Francis request.9 In addition, it is possible that the Pope may have felt threatened by Francis attempt to establish his brotherhood. The Pope and Francis had very different views on preaching and humanity. As Le Goff states: Innocent III was imbued with th e pessimisitic spirituality of monastic tradition. He wrote De Contemptu Mundi (On the Misery of the Human Condition) the exact opposite of Francis declaration of love for all creatures.10 It was the Popes nature to persecute all threat of heresy and he was most likely close to denying Saint Francis request, when as he was praying he was rewarded by a dream in which he saw Francis as savior of the church. After his dr eam the Pope approved Francis request, but only verbally. Francis was placed in charge of th e order and was given th e authority to preach.11 Of the Stipulations which Saint Francis set forth, three primary vows emerged: obedience, poverty, and chastity. Followers of Francis were not permitted to maintain any personal finances, and any possessions that were owned had to be so ld, with the proceeds given to the poor. It was not only personal poverty that was promoted by th e Franciscans but also institutional poverty: funds were not to be used to provide for the orde r. Pope Honorius III attempted to create a more comprehensive and flexible constitution for the lay brothers, but Saint Francis reacted by producing, in 1226, his Testament which maintained the restrictions he had originally set forth.12 8 House, Francis of Assisi, 98-99; Jacques Le Goff, Saint Francis of Assisi, Christine Rhone trans., (New York: Routledge, 2004), 33. 9 Le Goff, Saint Francis of Assisi 31-32. 10 Le Goff, Saint Francis of Assisi 32. 11 Le Goff, Saint Francis of Assisi, 33. 12 Le Goff, Saint Francis of Assisi 41-42.


17 It was these three vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience that would be taken up later by their female contingent, the Poor Clares, and brought into even stricter focus. Saint Francis Views on Art and Poverty The Testament of Saint Francis did not only confir m the three vows but also addressed ideas of art and images of worship, which gained considerable importance as the female order developed and architectural and iconographical distinctions became necessary. The stance of Saint Francis on the issue of art is by no means definitive; the several statements that he did make are contradictory but do serv e to highlight his reverence and respect for Eucharist, as well as for the vows he took. In regard to the Eucharist, he stated, I want this most holy Sacrament to be honored and venerated and reserved in places whic h are richly ornamented.13 This reverence for the Host, which will be considered in the foll owing pages, is something seen through out the Franciscan order and more specif ically in the Poor Clares. In the church of San Damiano, which was among the first that Saint Francis repaired and was later appropriate d for the Poor Clares, measures were taken to provide for an area for the Eucharist to reside in. In addition to the Eucharist, Francis also stipulated that the wr itings of God must be venerated and well kept: [Francis brothers should] have the greates t possible reverence fo r the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, together with his holy name and the writings which contain his words, those words which consecrate his body. Th ey should set the greatest value, too, on chalices, corporals, and all the ornaments of the altar that are related to the holy Sacrifice.14 Both instances of veneration regard entities that could be viewed as perfect images of God, in that they were not visual representati ons formed by man but rather came directly from him. The purity of their meaning and their use as meditative aids afforded them the appropriate status for adornment. 13 Marion Alphonse Habig, ed., St Francis of Assisi: Writings and Early Biographies: English Omnibus of the Sources for the Life of St Francis, (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1973), 67. 14 Ibid., 113.


18 Simultaneously, Saint Francis also maintained th at friars were not to receive any goods for themselves, for it would break their vow of poverty. In particular, Francis warned friars against accepting churches or poor dwellings for themselv es, or anything built for them, unless they are in harmony with the poverty which we have promised in the Rule ; they should occupy places only as strangers and pilgrims.15 This proclamation seems almost impossible, as the friars were meant to live off of those funds sustained through begging; however, it is important to recognize that while friars could not accept items or handout s for the betterment of themselves they were able to use funds to further their outreach to the community. Essentially, contributions could be made to churches for the benefit of the public but not for the areas of use to the brothers. In the same vein, the brothers could not use funds for pe rsonal gain, but they could use them to sustain themselves to be able to physically carry out their tasks. While churches could depend on donations from the public to provide for their main tenance and decoration, friars were forbidden to take money as alms, or have it accepted for them; so too they cannot ask for it themselves, or have others ask for it, for their houses or dwelling places. 16 The abstence of solicitation for churches gave outsiders assurance of the friars dedication and adherence to the primary vows outlined by Saint Francis, encouraging support for their cause. Saint Francis and his brothers were dedicate d to an evangelist lifestyle and traveled frequently throughout Italy caring for lepers, carrying out manual labo r, and preaching. A Benedictine abbott provided Francis with the sma ll chapel of Portiuncula, where he and his followers developed their order.17 The brothers continued their preaching, and it was while on a trip to Assisi that Francis would encounter one of his most devoted pupils, Clare of Assisi. 15Ibid., 68. 16 Ibid. 39. 17 House, Francis of Assisi 82.


19 Twelve years his junior, Clare wa s largely responsible for perpet uating those Franciscan ideals which St. Francis had set forth early in his car eer. From the time in which she joined with Francis until her death in 1253, Clare fought for th e right to live in poverty to maintain a close relationship between the Franciscan brothers and the sisters of the Poor Ladies, and to live a life of enclosure. These precedents she set fort h during her own time endured over the years and later influenced the lives of female mona stics throughout Europe. Clare of Assisi Clare was born around 1194 to Ortolana a nd Favarone Offreduccio, m embers of an aristocratic Assisian family, and was the third of five children. T he Acts of the Process of Canonization and The Legend of Saint Clare both give accounts of Clares birth; both emphasize that Clares mother Ortolana became ve ry apprehensive before her birth: She frequently visited a nearby church and one day heard a response to her prayer for the safe delivery of her child. O lady do not be af raid, for you will joyfully bring forth a clear light that will illumine the world. Within a short time Ortulana and her husband Favarone had the baby and named her Chiara or Clare, the clea r or bright one.18 The clarity and light with which her name is asso ciated are two traits th at have been used to characterize her spirituality, bot h literarily and pictorially. Clares lineage was noble, with several knights in the fam ily, and her ability to marry would have been used to create an alliance with another influential family and to bolster the family name. It is recorded that Clares unc le Monaldo had arranged a marriage for Clare the same year she took her vows, servin g as a catalyst for her decision to dedicate herself to spiritual pursuits.19 Clare refused the marriage and made ar rangements with her servant, Bona di Guelfuccio, to meet with St. Francis and receive his advice. How Clare firs t heard of St. Francis 18 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 101. Armstrong, Francis and Clare 169. 19 Joan Muller, The Privilege of Poverty: Clare of Assisi, Agnes of Prague, and the Struggle for a Franciscan Rule for Women (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), 8; Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 12.


20 has not been determined, but it is assumed that she may have heard him preaching at the nearby church of San Rufino.20 Nonetheless, Clare traveled by night to Santa Maria della Porziuncola, where, Jeryldene Wood relates, the friars who were keeping vigil at the little altar of God received the virgin Clar e with lighted torches.21 Typically the reasons why women entered into the monastic world varied: they may have sought refuge from unwanted betrothal; their famili es may not be able to provide a substantial dowry; they may have been taken in as orphans; and they may have chosen to retire there as widows and divorcees.22 Probably the least common and most noteworthy reason was a true yearning to devote ones life to God. Clare was one of those wome n who truly felt a calling and escaped her family to enter into the monastic life. Women actively seeking spiritual vocations were limited in options for accommodations; most orders refused to place them as they put a strain on resources and pastoral availability. Typically they ne eded to rely on smaller scale communities of recluses or on less expensive and informal arrangements, such as communal houses run by individual groups of mainly urban women who devoted their lives to social work and religion.23 Clare was fortunate in that she was able to meet with St. Francis and gain his support, which assisted her throughout her life as a nun and provided a space for her within the community. The Legend of Saint Clare states: The Father Francis encouraged her to desp ise the world, showing her by his living speech how dry the hope of the world was and how decep tive is beauty. He whispered in her ears 20 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 12. 21 Jeryldene Wood, Women, Art, & Spirituality, 12. 22 Vera Morton, Guidance for Women in Twelfth-Century Convents (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2003), 6. 23 Morton, Guidance for Women, 6.


21 of sweet espousal with Christ, persuading her to preserve the pearl of her virginal purity for that blessed Spouse Whom Love made man.24 It was these words of wisdom that solidified Cl ares decision to enter in to Francis world of poverty and drove her to uphold it until her d eath. Her acceptance of his vows was extremely significant, given the era and her aristocratic Assisian family. As the eighteenth witness in The Acts of the Process of Canonization Lord Rainerio de Bernardo of Assisi states that Clare was beautiful and admits to having asked her many times to consent to marriage.25 At a time when the social gaps between the wealthy and the poor were very large, a wil ling sacrifice such as Clares turning her back on her origins to embr ace poverty would have garnered much attention, in the same way that Francis gesture had. After her vows were taken with St. Francis, Clare was moved to the Benedictine monastery of San Paolo delle Abbadesse in Bastia, a short distance from Portiuncula. She remained at San Paolo until further arrangements could be made, at which time she was moved to San Angelo di Panzo, a monastery of Beguine recluses, and fina lly to San Damiano, the first of the churches Francis had repaired when he began his preaching.26 It was at San Da miano where Clare remained until her death in 1253 and where she de veloped the Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano, which would become known as the Poor Clares. Saint Francis was adamant that his brothers s hould care for and minist er to the sisters of San Damiano.27 In addition, it was common practice for th e brothers to collect alms on their behalf, as Clare had wanted them to live wit hout material support. C oncurrently, Clare sent 24 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 12. 25 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 11. 26 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, 13. 27 Lezlie Knox, Audacious Nuns: Institutionaliz ing the Franciscan Order of Saint Clare, Church History 69.1 (March 2000): 42.


22 members of the Poor Ladies to develop additiona l sections of the order. However, as Leslie Knox addresses in her researc h, it seems as though Saint Francis meant for the help of the brothers to extend only to those ladies of San Damiano and not to additional chapters. Francis did not express an interest in becoming the head of an entire order of enclosed women, due to his frustrations with the continually gr owing male contingent of the order.28 In response to his aversion to leading the group of women, Cl are accepted the role of abbess in 1215.29 Despite her wishes for living a simple solitary life, she cons ented to the position of power out of respect for Saint Francis. After Saint Francis death in 1226, Clare fought for two decades to have the sisters fully incorporated into the Franciscan order. The brot hers of the order had fiercely rejected their obligations to the Poor Clares after their founders death; th e brothers felt that the nuns care placed a strain on the orders resources, and that counseling the nuns took the brothers away from other actions.30 Fortunately for the women, the Popes nephew Cardinal Rainald dei Segni became the cardinal protector for the Poor Ladies and held the belief that the friars should take responsibility for the sisters. T hus, the Cardinal frequently assi gned friars to minister to the sisters.31 In 1227 Pope Gregory IX issued a bull comm anding the Franciscan Minister General to provide pastoral care to the Or der of Poor Ladies of San Dami ano. Despite this help, tensions remained between the orders, and in 1230 Pope Gregory XII commanded, in response to Francis original proclamation, that the friars were not to enter convents without papal sanction. This was 28 During the later half of his life the Franciscans grew tremendously and Francis wrote several additional rules for the order to maintain consistency, although at the end the changes in the Rule are said to have shown little reflection of Francis. Le Goff, Saint Francis of Assisi, 41. 29 Muller, Privilege of Poverty, 17. 30 Knox, Audacious Nuns 42. 31 Ibid. 45.


23 interpreted by the Franciscan comm unity as a reprieve from offeri ng care to the sisters, and they removed themselves from the convents.32 The women threatened a hunger strike, and under the command of the Pope the brothers returned to their posts. However, no new convents were added to the order between 1228 and 1245.33 In 1250 a bull was finally passed which stated th at the friars were exempt from their duties to care for the Poor Clares. While they were not legally bound, most maintained the traditional precedent continued their duties.34 On October 18, 1263 Pope Urban IV published a new constitution for the Clarissan nuns. Before this ti me, because of the uncertainty of their position within the Franciscan order, most Clarissan orders were living by various sets of rules which had been adapted over time, creati ng confusion among the orders.35 Also, following Francis death there was a shift in the views of the Franciscan brothers in regard to poverty. As Mueller states, they stru ggled to redefine their institutional poverty to make it easier to use and access money for the promotion of their order.36 This went against the principle Clare believed to be the fundamental co re of Franciscan faith, and she fought for the right to poverty until her death. Cl arissan houses were forced to face the question of whether to maintain their connection to the Franciscan orde r, which was contrary to the wishes of Saint Francis, or to uphold the original goals of Fr ancis and reject the new constitution set down by Urban, which favored changing views of the brothe rs. Clare lived in seclusion in San Damiano 32 Knox, Audacious Nuns, 45. 33 Ibid., 45. 34 Ibid., 46. 35 Some houses had adopted Hugolino's constitution of 1218, while others followed Pope Innocent IV's rule of 1247, and a few convents with close ties to San Damiano had been allowed to profess Clare's rule of 1253. Ibid. 55. 36 Muller, The Privilege of Poverty, 2.


24 for forty-three years, leaving very few sources to directly testify to her beliefs and wishes. Among those sources that remain are her Testament Rule and the spiritual advice in her letters to Agnes of Prague. Through examination of the th emes of each of thes e sources, it is evident that above all Clare was dedica ted to poverty and seclusion, a nd this was the direction the Clarissan order chose to uphold. Shortly before her death, Clare wrote her Rule s for the Poor Ladies, not wanting to die without her sisters being legitimated as an or der that was devoted to poverty and enclosure. During the period before she received word from the Pope of his decision about their validity and her proposal, Clare received her most well-know n vision, in which she saw the Virgin Mary surrounded by crowned virginal saints.37 In her vision the Virgin Mary legitimated Clares leadership of the Poor Ladies but covering he r with an ornately brocaded cloth of honor.38 This vision has also been interpreted as the r ealization of a prophecy given by St. Francis in his Canticle of Exhortation to Saint Clare and her Sisters, which stated, Those who are weighed down by Sickness and others who are wearied because of them, all of you: bear it in peace. For you will sell this fatigue at a very high price and each one will be crowned queen in heaven with the Virgin Mary.39 It is poignant that Clar e received this vision of the Virgin when she was on her death bed, after she had weathered years of poverty and sickness without complaint, and it was part of the reason many of her followers likened her presence to that of the Virgin, just as Francis had been seen as a Christ figure. He r kinship with the Virgin was passed on to the Clarisse, and it became their goal to emulate her through meditation.40 37 Wood, Women, Art, and Spirituality 22. 38 Ibid., 14. 39 Armstrong, Francis and Clare, 41. 40 Regis J. Armstrong,. ed., Clare of Assisi: Early Documents (New York: Paulist Press, 1988), 13


25 On the day before her death, Clare received the news that her Rules in which she detailed the form of poverty to be performed by the sisters, had been accepted by Pope Innocent the IV.41 It is telling, however, that in ad dition to her stipulations for poverty Clare also mandated strict enclosure, or clausera, on her sisters.42 What is even more significant, perhaps, is the order in which the rules were set down. The statute of enclos ure is included in the first of the twenty-six chapters of rules which Clare set forth, emphasizing the importance this mandate held for her. To begin with, she states that the sisters must conform to living in obedience, without property, and in chastity, under enclosure.43 Elizabeth Makowski notes that by stating her Rules in this manner, Clare added a fourth vow to the traditional three; obedience, poverty, and chastity, emphasizing once again the added importance of enclosure for her order.44 The Poor Clares would be the first female order whose enclosure was observed by the papacy.45 The enclosure Clare had in mind was everlastin g and was not to be violated unless of an extreme emergency, such as fire or attack. In any other case it was necessary to obtain permission from the Cardinal Protector, w ho would have been appointed by the Pope.46 Even when obtaining permission, an exception to the ru le had to be from extreme cause, such as contagious illness. Permission to enter the monast ery had to be given either by the Apostolic See or the Cardinal Protector, despite religious status. The only excep tion was similar to that of a monastery, in that physicians were allowed to enter when emergency called for it. However, they 41 Muller, The Privilege of Poverty 3. 42 Makowski, Canon Law and Cloistered Women, 35. 43 vivendo in obedientia, sine propio, et in castitate, sub clausura. Ibid., 35. 44 Ibid., 35. 45 Ibid. 356. 46 Ibid. 37.


26 were only allowed in with the presence of two other members of the clergy as added protection.47 In order to have the ability to carry out func tions that necessitated outside interaction and travel, the sisters took in severa l servant girls to ca rry out these duties. As Makowski relates, they were to observe all obligati ons of profession, save cloister regulations, since these sisters, with the license of the abbess, were permitte d to leave the monastery on convent business.48 Most Clarissian orders owned land that was cultiv ated for grains, olives, grapes, and it was these lay sisters, tenants, and out side workers who were hired to carry out these duties.49 Their presence thus ensured that the sisters would have the ability to maintain the land and function as an order without breaking one of their most important vows. In addition to restrictions on who could enter and exit the monastery, Clare also outlin ed elaborate architectural precautions to be taken.50 Specific building features would ensure that even while visitors were present within the convent, face-to-face exposure would be avoi ded until completely necessary. As Caroline Bruzelius puts it, the sisters we re to be dead to the world.51 Periculoso and Implications of Enclosure The enclosu re of the Poor Clares and the de claration of Urban IV set a precedent that would inspire the later decree of Periculoso set forth by Pope Boniface VIII.52 The Periculoso was implemented in 1298 and expanded the ideas set forth by Saint Clare in her Rules The 47 Ibid., 37. 48 Ibid. 36. 49 Ibid. 264. 50 Ibid., 36. 51 Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, 15. 52 For an in-depth study of the Periculoso see Elizabeth Makowskis Canon Law and Cloistered Women: Periculoso and its Commentators, 1298545 Makowski has provided the only detailed study on the Periculoso and its significance to date.


27 particular significance of the Periculoso is that it did not just addr ess the Poor Clares, as Urban IVs constitution did, it was also the first universal mandate that all female monastic orders under the Catholic Church should adhere to a permanent rule of enclosure.53 Before this time enclosure had been common, but had been followed as tradition and preference of a particular order, not as a universal diktat. What is also significant about the decree is that no such mandate was created for the male population of monastic orders, whic h caused their female counterparts to limit the number of members which they acceptedthereby avoiding a drain on their resources and distinctly articulating im penetrable boundaries w ithin their structures.54 The Periculoso was not created solely in response to the values of enclosure established by earlier by groups such as the Poor Clares. It was also enacted as a response to the fears of fiduciary constraint that the maintenance of th e women posed, as well as the nuns threat to the long established Church hierarchy. As Caro line Walker Bynum rela tes, the number of opportunities for women grew s ubstantially in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries.55 Concurrently with the birth of the Poor Clares, many other religious organizations were taking form. In England emerged the double monastery, which held both male and female communities and coincided with a surge of female recluses. Ci stercians and premonstratsians female numbers grew exorbitantly; both passed internal legisl ation limiting the number of new chapters that could be formed.56 In addition to the growth of accepted orders, there was a new trend of modern fledgling groups establishing themselves. Most of these groups were viewed as heretical by the church and 53 Makowski, Canon Law and Cloistered Women, 1. 54 Ibid., 3. 55 Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, 15. 56 Ibid. 15.


28 posed a threat to the already established church hierarchy.57 The new orders provided outlets to women not available in establishe d tradition, thus presenting an at tractive spiritual outlet. It was because of these new-found opportunities that the new orders were viewed as heretical, rather than due to their ecclesiastic al beliefs. As Bynum states, mo st developed the same orthodox themes as existing orders, such as a concern for affective religious respon se, an extreme form of penitential asceticism, an emphasis both on Christs humanity and on the insp iration of the spirit, and a bypassing of clerical authority.58 It was this move away from church hierarchy that presented the largest fear for leaders of the Church, for within these heretical groups women were able to establis h themselves within an opposing hierarchy and maintain authority. Groups such as the Beguines in northern Europe (in areas su ch as France and Switzerland) and the Tertiaries, who were well represented in Italy, posed the main concern because they were not relegated to any convent ual space. Like most heresies the Beguines maintained the values common in the established orders, such as poverty and chastity, but they didnt have any unifying rules, hous es, or leaders, which left a c onsiderable amount of room for unprecedented female leadership.59 The Tertiaries, while associat ed with groups such as the Franciscans or the Dominicans, also lived outs ide monastic walls, making it difficult to impose strict guidelines and hierarchy within the group.60 These groups were supportive to women because enclosure was not necessary and lodging was difficult to obtain. The mandate of Periculoso ensured that the threat that these gr oups posed was considerably lessened by requiring their observance of the ordinance of enclosure, which removed the flexibility and 57 Ibid., 15. 58 Ibid., 17. 59 Ibid, 15-17. 60 Ibid., 15-17.


29 accessibility the new orders once offered. Those w ho did not comply would be subject to the prescribed punishments, in addition to not being recognized by the Church.61 The Periculoso was published as a section, Chapter 16, in the third portion of Pope Boniface VIIIs book Liber Sextus so named because of its beginning words.62 The book formed part of a compilation of papal law entitled Corpus Iuris Canonici. The mandate of enclosure is written in a way very similar to those produced by Clare and Urban IV. First and foremost the rule states that thenceforth all nuns, no matter what rule th ey observed and no matter where their monasteries were located, were to be perpetually cloistered.63 By stating there would be no exemptions from order or location, the Periculoso establishes the universality of the proclamation. In addition, by using the term per petually cloistered, the Pope removed all possibility of movement to and from the conve nt, therefore limiting those orders which had previously had the ability to sustain themselves through labor or ministry.64 Also in accordance with the earl ier restrictions of enclosure, certain exceptions were made for extreme cases, such as illness or emergenc y. In those cases only nuns who possessed a health threat to those around them were to be removed from the convent.65 These rules applied to all members of the order, in cluding the abbess, as Eli zabeth Makowski explains: Once enclosed, nuns, even abbesses, were not to risk exposure to worldly temptations. Boniface commanded temporal lords, as well as bishops and other prelates, to permit abbesses and prioresses to do homage, swear fealty and conduct any other legal 61 Makowski, Canon Law and Cloistered Women, 2. 62 Ibid., 1. 63 Ibid., 2. 64 Ibid., 3. 65 Ibid., 37.


30 transactions on behalf of their monasteries through the agency of a proctor whenever possible.66 Again, Boniface seemed to be depending on thos e methods which had been implemented by the Poor Clares earlier to ensure that sisters were allowed to maintain their order; just as the Clares appointed lay sisters to ca rry out their public duties. Whereas the Clares applied sanctions to those sisters who violated thei r rule of enclosure, Boniface ensured obedience by promoting harshe r punishments for violation. Permission was given to bishops and other members of the clergy to uphold the restrictions and to report any inappropriateness. Those who failed to uphold the limitations of enclosure were subject not only to excommunication from the church but to secular penalties as well.67 Before the universal decree was placed, a certain amount of flexibility had been allowed to maintain the economic functions of the convent, even with the aid of lay sisters.68 Bonifaces proposed sanctions severely endangered the economic well-being of many convents and served to severely limit their influence in the Christian community. Not only were the activities of the sisters limite d in regard to the labor they could perform for economic means due to their inability to leave, but the law also affected those coming into the institutions. This posed an even larger im plication, in that the most important economic resource for many of the orders was the charita ble donations of affluent family members and friends of the sisters. By barring visitation and contact between the women and their families, the amount of economic support offered through these pr eviously generous rela tionships was largely 66 Ibid. 2. 67 Ibid., 2. 68 Ibid., 3.


31 limited.69 A poignant example of their importance can be seen through the status of Agnes of Prague. Agnes of Prague was a princess who had been betrothed to the German Emperor Frederick II but declined his proposal to found a monastery of the Poor Clares in Prague.70 Agnes was perhaps Clares most loyal follower and promoted the latters efforts to uphold the Franciscan ideals of poverty. In recognition of Agnes devotion to the ideals of poverty, Clare took particular care to docume nt her dedication in her Vita.71 It is essential to recognize, however, that while personal poverty was maintain ed, the Clares did accept donations for the good of the order in general, and for this reas on Agnes proved an important asset. Due to her royal status she was the recipient of numerous royal gifts from family and friends, and she was known to have always divided their value into three parts. With the first portion she bought reliquaries, vessels, and ornaments for the church; with the second she took care of the needs of her sisters; and the third sh e spent on widows, orphans, lepers, and other needy persons.72 It was with the generosity of those associated with the sisters, such as Agnes of Prague, that the nuns were for the large part able to remain financially sound prior to the Periculoso Clare herself, having come from an aristocratic family, would ha ve been a recipient of similar gifts as she maintained the support of her mother and sister, who both joined her at later periods of her enclosure.73 It can be seen then that a tradition of giving had been well established from the beginning for the Clares and would have proved a severe strain on most communities. It was 69 Ibid., 3. 70 Muller, Privilege of Poverty, 3. 71 Ibid., 103. 72 Ibid., 106. 73 Ibid., 10-12.


32 those communities benefiting from royal interest that proved the most successful in maintaining themselves as an order, as w ill be shown with Santa Maria Donna Regina in Naples, due to its relationships with Maria of H ungary and Santa Chiara of Napl es and the patronage of Queen Sancia. Without this special inte rest the financial future of mo st convents was put into question. While the similarities between the Periculoso and the earlier forms of enclosure set forth by Urban and Clare have been established, it must also be considered why Pope Boniface VIII believed it was necessary to create such an addition to the papal law. It has been suggested by Makowski that by mandating a universal enclosur e, Pope Boniface VIII was attempting to quell threats to both his authority as well as reli gious hierarchy as a w hole. As she explains: Strict enclosure, the absolute (and therefore novel) observance of ancient and revered ideal, was the popes prescription for maintaining discipline among religious women who sought the highest palm that Christianity could offe r them: recognized religious status within a monastic community.74 This statement, while bold, is supported by the la ck of parallel mandates for male monastics. At no point was a similar decree of enclosure created for the male population. As a result those orders not affected by the enclosure were able to accept larger numbers of followers and sustain themselves better economically. As Makowski states, the popes aversion was not just to untraditional female behavior that was being practiced by certain female orders such as itinerant preaching, but to the efforts of communities like the Poor Clar es to be recognized in the same capacity as their brother communities.75 To obtain equal footing w ithin the church hierarc hy would have allowed for additional movement throughout the church, which for most would have been deemed unacceptable. By mandating such restrictions, the church was ensuring a smaller contingent of 74Makowski, Canon Law and Cloistered Women, 40. 75 Ibid. 40.


33 female members and limiting their m obility in such a way that they would not have been able to function more broadly within the church system Therefore, while at first appearance the directive seems to have only been solidifying an al ready established practice, it served in fact to cement the place of women within the broader church hierarchy.


34 CHAPTER 3 HOST AS IMAGE: OBSERV ANC E AND ACESSIBILITY In understanding the extremity of the limitations that were placed on the female order, it can be surmised that the measures taken in th e construction of their buildings become much more important. Before enclosure was self-ma ndated certain exceptions were made, and the repercussions were not as severe if indulgences were allowed. However, with the threat of excommunication and secular sanctions it become vital to make sure that the spaces were in fact capable of maintaining the separation needed from the public and male members of the clergy, especially for convents that were associated w ith a public church in which the nuns were also supposed to bear witness to the service. As previ ously stated, the sisters were to be dead to the world, and that was especially true in terms of the laity. Not only did structures need to accommodate the mandated physical separations, but they also needed to allow for the fulfillment of the nuns spiritual needs. Allowanc es had to be made so that those ideas and aspects of the service that were of the most value to the sist ers could be accessed, despite the nuns physical separation fr om the public at large. The Poor Clares embodied the Franciscan ideals set forth by Sain t Francis since the beginning of his preaching. The Franciscan approa ch to spirituality was to emphasize personal devotion and interaction with the divine; ones personal connection with God was fostered through prayer.1 Along with this heightened emotionality and personal engagement came a stronger demand for images to elic it these emotions and act as ai ds of memory. Their use within the Franciscan order would have been in line wi th the goals of the most predominant religious sects in Italy at the time. Prevailing images of the time were icons and narrative frescos, which 1 Amy Neff, Byzantium Westernized, Byzantium Marg inalized: Two Icons in the Supplicationes Variae Gesta 38 (1999): 2.


35 were utilized by the Franciscans, but they were used in a much broader sense than is usually thought. For the Franciscans, as for most sects of the Latin Church, it was not a painted or sculpted creation that was most revered, but instead the body of Christ in the form of the Host. While other images were mere representations of an imagined Christ, the Host was the perfect and true image of Christ, in that it was his body. This differentiation alone made it the most valuable image of Christ and one of the most important aspects of the ritual of the mass. Saint Francis explicitly stated his approva l of adornment for the holding place of the Eucharist. This setting apart of the Eucharis t from other types of images and forms of decorations shows the importance of the Host as an image and acknowledges it as being the primary image to the brothers. As Clare was a close follower of the guidelines and values established by Saint Francis, it follows that she too would show particular reverence to the Eucharist, the Host in particular. As proof of her fondness for the meaning and presence of the Host, Clare is depicted most often holding a monstr ance, a container used for displaying the Host for adoration. The adoration felt by Clare was in turn instilled in the Poor Ladies, and the Host continued to be viewed as the prim ary image within the female order. The Role of the Host The attention that was given to the H ost by the women of the order is not unusual for religious women of the time, and was quite the no rm for Franciscans in general. The symbolism of the Host as the crucified and resurrected body of Christ was central to Franciscan piety and was highly emphasized by both Francis and Clare. During the fourth Lateran Council in 1215 it was declared that Christ was physically present at the altar during the co nsecration of the Host. Canon 1 of the Council stated: There is one Universal Church of the faithfu l, outside of which there is absolutely no salvation. In which there is the same priest and sacrifice, Jesu s Christ, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine;


36 the bread being changed (transubstantiation) by divine power into the body, and the wine into the blood, so that to realize the mystery of unity we may receive of Him what He has received of us. And this sacrament no one can effect except the priest who has been duly ordained in accordance with the keys of the Church, which Jesus Christ Himself gave to the Apostles and their successors.2 For the first time in church history it was made certain that those partaking in communion were in fact sharing in the physical body of Christ, not just acting in remembra nce of his sacrifice. Furthermore, they propagated the idea of concomita nce, which Bynum describe s as the idea that both the body and blood of Christ are present in each element.3 This idea proved essential as laity became concerned that as the bread wa s broken, pieces were lost and the body was desecrated. In addition, a main reason for the so lidifying of transubstantiation dogma was, as Pelikan notes, that late medieval Eucharis tic piety was underscored by the problem of doubt.4 The problem of seeing and not seeing was one th at was extremely prevalent, as is shown by the number of anecdotes that circulated during the period addressing the issue.5 To view the Host was to obtain the Grace of God, but for members of the laity the distinction between the bread and the body of the Host was unclear. Duffy adds, [T]he appearance of the bread in the Host cloaked the divine reality which was the true source of blessing.6 Clarification in the dogma served as an attempt to solidif y what the laity was seeing. The problem seems to have remained even after the doctrine was set down; images of the Mass of St. Gregory became extremely 2 Medieval Sourcebook: Twelfth Ecumen ical Council: Lateran IV 1215, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/latera n4.html, (Paul Halsall: March, 1996). 3 Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast 51. 4 Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars :Traditional Religion in England, c.1400c.1580 (Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1992), 102. 5 Duffy offers numerous examples of contemporary tales and fables that address the issue of doubt in the Host. Ibid. 102. 6 Ibid. 102.


37 prevalent in the 1500s and play ed the same didactic role.7 The establishment of these ideas would have been particularly important to those participating in the consecration ritual because literally linking the bread and body of Christ to the altar alludes to several poignant metaphors. Just as one hungers for the bread and its abil ity to fulfill that yearning, one also hungers for spiritual fulfillment.8 By taking the body of Christ, Christ is fulfilling the worshipers spiritual needs. However, as Bynum points out, hunger is al so associated with suffering, and by ingesting the Host that is synonymous with Christs wounded flesh (and, in essence, his suffering), one is able to achieve true empathy with Christ and to understand his sacrifice.9 Bynums main thesis is that woman in particular show an affinity to the use of food in the worship of Christ as it appeals to their prescribed duties as creators a nd servers of food. The Franciscan veneration of the Host would have made this idea es pecially true for the Clarisse women. For the Poor Clares this affective respons e to the Host would have been extremely poignant because of their adheren ce to the Franciscan ideals. For despite their inability to fully achieve the Imitatio Christi, it was the goal of th e Franciscans to engage personally with Christ and to create a personal relationship with God. By drawing such emotional parallels with the Host they were able to achieve a more person al connection with Christ. While the nuns gender would never allow them to fully comprehend his sp irituality in the same male terms, suffering is universal and can be understood by all.10 In addition, if the Clarissan view of Mary and their goal of emulation is taken into consideration, the nuns emotional response can be seen as being even 7 Images of the Mass of Saint Gregory usually depict Saint Gregory at the altar performing the consecration of the Host as he is confronted by an image of Christ emergi ng from the altar, as if it was his tomb, surrounded with implements of the Passion. As Pelikan states, This was a highly compressed image, teaching the real presence and unity of Christs suffering with the daily sacr ifice in every church in Christendom. Ibid., 102. 8 Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast 54. 9 Ibid., 54. 10 Ibid., 54.


38 stronger than most. For, according to the theology, not only did they experience the suffering of Christ through the Host, they were also fully aware of the simultaneous sacrifice by the Virgin Mary as her son stood dying. The emotional response of the female members of the order would have been substantially different from their male contemporaries, particul arly because they were subject to the gendered spiritua lity that was set forth for them by their male leaders. History of the Eucharist W hile the Eucharist held a central role in the piety of the Poor Clares, it is essential to understand how the Eucharist came to be such a pivotal moment in the mass and how it gained even greater prominence through subtle changes that took place in its use and observance. The ritualistic function and importa nce of the Host changed thro ughout the course of the Middle Ages, gaining more significance as the symbolic body of Christ ra ther than as the bread of heaven and symbol of the church.11 This change took place graduall y, and can be seen as both a reason for, or, depending on how it is viewed, as a result of the changing role that it took during the consecration that took place in mass. During th e early Middle Ages the altar of a church was set in the front of the apse with the Eucharis tic accoutrements placed atop it. At the time of consecration the priest faced the liturgy and proceed ed with the ritual w ithin their full view.12 As the Middle Ages advanced, the cerem ony of the Eucharistic consecration evolved. During the twelfth century the placement of the a ltar changed: It was moved back from the laity, creating a more pronounced spatial barrier between the rite and its audience.13 In addition, the placement of the officiating priest changed: Rather than facing the laity, the priest was moved to the front of the altar and performed the consecrati on with his back to the laity, resulting in the 11 Ibid., 56. 12 Ibid., 56. 13 Ibid., 56.


39 further obstruction of the la tters view of the Host.14 The progressive removal of the Host from public view served to increase the importance and value of the moments when the Host was made visible. Beginning in the twelfth centur y, it became common practic e for the priest to elevate the Host at the moment of consecration.15 Before the raising took place a bell was rung to alert the laity, who may have been engaged in prayer, of the upcoming event. Once the bell was rung, the priest would perform the sacring, which would induce the transubstantiation.16 The Host was then allowed to be seen by the la ity, forcibly marking the exact moment when transubstantiation of the Host took place. The la ity, then, at the moment of consecration was literally viewing the body of Christ, making the Host the perfect image. Communion was something that existed simultaneously with the consecration of the Eucharist early in the medieval period. It was seen as the communal meal, much like the last supper, in which Christ offered his body and blood. Thus the laity was brought together over the act of communion as the Host served as the focu s of the mass. At this time communion was not taken frequently but was taken following the co nsecration, maintaining a connection between the two activities.17 However, as the Eucharists place in the apse was changed, the connection between the act of communion and the consecration also changed; by the thirteenth century the two practices were completely separated. Communion was taken before or after the service, or 14 Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast 56. 15 Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars, 95-97. 16 The sacring was the words of institution spoken several tim es by the priest to induce transubstantion, Hoc est enim Corpus Meum. Ibid. 957. 17 Ancrene Wisse records taking communion twelve times a year. Ann Savage and Nicholas Watson, eds., Anchoritic Spirituality: Ancrene Wisse and Associated Works (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), 199.


40 not at all.18 The emphasis shifted from the actual receivi ng of the Eucharist to simply viewing it, promulgating the idea of the Host as image. The Host as image advanced certain ways of viewing the Host. In the fourteenth century the monstrance was introduced to hold the consecrated Host.19 The monstrance provided an ornamented office for the Host, which was able to be incorporated into church processions, and provided a suitable area in which the Host c ould be viewed when mass was not occurring. Oculus windows were built into the walls of the ap se so that those outside of the church could peer inside and see the Host.20 Such measures attest to the importance of the Host as image and illustrate how the laity would in turn be more concerned with obtaining a glimpse of the wafer than of tasting it. The newfound prominence of the Host as image can be seen in the provisions that were made in San Damiano. For the majority of her tim e within the Fran ciscan order Clare stayed in the church of San Damiano. San Damiano was am ong the first churches Saint Francis repaired upon his return to Assisi and was where he crea ted a place for Clare and her Poor Ladies. Even within their first location, which was not built with the intention of housing a female order, special accommodations were made for the placemen t of the Host. In the oratory next to the dormitory of the sisters, a niche was created to hold a reserved Host. As Caroline Bruzelius asserts, its purpose as an object of venerati on for the sisters can be confirmed by the still preserved wall painting representi ng Clare and the sisters kneeling in adoration below the niche in the oratory, which seems to have been that used for the night offices and private devotion of 18 Ibid., 56. 19 Ibid., 54. 20 Ibid. 54.


41 the sisters.21 Similar niches were common in or near the cells of monks si nce the ninth century, allowing them to worship the Host privately.22 The architectural placement of the niche (directly above the sanctuary) not only reflects the use of the sisters for private worship, but also symbolically connects the women to the church. Th is served as a reminder of the ritual that accompanied the transubstantiation of the Host, as well as the simultaneous viewing by the laity. As will be seen, great lengths were taken to remove the sisters from the presence of the laity and of the officiating clergy as well, but the presence of the Host and its status as the central image were the link between the public world of the laity and the private world of the Poor Clares. This ensured that while no contact was made between the two, they were c onnected through their mutual desire to know, and imitate, Christ. San Damiano As Saint Clare laid down her law of enclosure, she set forth very specif ic stipulations about how the sisters were to be seclud ed and what architectural precautions should me made. Among the specifications listed by Clare were the number of locks on the doors, curtains that concealed all doors (with grilles should cont act become necessary), one interi or and one exterior entrance, a portress of an advanced age, and guards to maintain watch at all entrances.23 All of these precautions guarded against the exposure of the nuns to the outside world and ensured that their presence would not be felt unless entirely necessa ry. Such precautions were necessary on a larger scale to guarantee that the integrity of the sist ers and their vow of enclosure was maintained. Before Clare established the Clarissian or der at San Damiano, the church had been intended for parish use and was meant to be open to the public for worship (Fig. 1). The arrival 21 Bruzelius, Hearing is Believing 85. 22 Ibid., 85. 23 Wood, Women, Art, and Spirituality, 37. Makowski, Canon Law and Cloistered Women, 37.


42 of Clare necessitated several alte rations to the architectural space to provide separation of the female inhabitants. The sanctuary existed as th e central space from which the areas created for the nuns radiated (Fig. 2-3).24 The walls of the area above the nave were extended, creating a second level with a dormitory and, directly above the altar of the sanctuary, a space for a small oratory (Fig. 4).25 By overlaying the altar space with the oratory, which was used for contemplation and personal devotion, a physical link was created, since no visual connection was made between the spaces. The oratory maintained a domed ceiling similar to that of the altar below, establishing not only a relation to the phy sical proximity, but also a visual echo to inspire meditation on the significance of the altar and its relation to the Host. Placed to the left of the center of the oratory, a small niche with the cons ecrated Host further reinforced the importance of the connection between the two spaces and placed focus on both the laitys and the nuns devotion on the Host. In addition to the dormitory area, two other sp aces were created for the sisters. A refectory took the place of stables perpendicular to the ma in sanctuary area, again maintaining proximity to the primary area of worship. The third space, which may be the most significant in regard to later architecture of the Poor Clares, was the nun s choir. The choir was constructed to abut the apse, so that the nuns faced the adjoining wall.26 The purpose of the nuns choir was to provide a space for the sisters while the mass was occurring, so they could take part in the ritual. But due to the strict enclosure enforced by Clare, the onl y avenue made available for this purpose was a small window placed in the adjoining wall.27 This placement, in the curvilinear wall of the apse, 24 Ibid., 38. 25 Ibid., 38-39. 26 Ibid., 38. 27 Ibid., 39-40.


43 did not allow for any visualization of the Eu charist or the ceremony surrounding it; the only prospect of sight would have been an oblique view of the altar a nd the opposite side of the apse wall. It will also be seen that the placement of the window in relation to the iconographical program will also be important. The window itself was fitted with a grille to further obscure any view, and was presumably covered with some type of curtain, as Clare mandated. It is possible, as hypothesized by Bruzelius, that the window may also have serv ed the purpose of allowing the priest to administer the Host to the sisters.28 This particular act would have presented a distinct problem for the nuns, as practice at this time lim ited the physical interac tion with the Host. No one beside the priestno members of the laity or other members of the churchwas to lay hands on the Host during the act of communion; rather, the priest would place the wafer directly in the mouth of the communicant.29 Whether exceptions were made in this case is not known; however, the presence of both the curtain and th e grille on the opening would have ensured as much seclusion as possible while sti ll allowing the act to take place. The inability to observe the Host from the nuns choir during the service makes the placement and function of the oratory even more e ssential. As has been shown, the raising of the consecrated Host became the most significant po rtion of the mass and was precisely what the nuns were being excluded from. How, then, did th ese churches maintain the seclusion of the sisters, while still allowing them to participate in the ritual and inte ract with the Host? In the case of San Damiano, the oratory can be seen as a possi ble solution to this problem, as it provided a personal altar for the nuns in which they were able to contemplate the Host, by providing both a similar architectural setting as well as the uncons ecrated Host. But the problem of witnessing the 28 Bruzelius, Hearing is Believing 84. 29 Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast 54.


44 transubstantiation, the actual changing from br ead to body of Christ, still remained. As the importance of the Host persisted, particular meas ures were taken to accommodate both needs of the Clarissan sisters. Unlike the stipulations that were set forth by Saint Francis, Clare did not record her feelings on images and their value as meditative objects. Her adherence to the other guidelines set forth by Saint Francis would s uggest that she held similar vi ews and did not reject images. She most likely did not spend money on adornments, as that would have been in conflict with her orders vow of poverty. While images currently adorn the walls of the nuns spaces in San Damiano, during the time when Clare lived th ere the walls were most likely whitewashed.30 The absence of visual imagery suggests that the memb ers of the order relied on the Host as their primary image and source of meditative inspiration. The only recorded images from this time existe d in the public realm of the church and were supplemental images to the Host, didactic tools se rving as visual reminders of the meaning of the Host. Among those images present were a Crucifix and a Madonna and Child with Saints (Fig. 5).31 Both images would have been appropriate su bjects for the Eucharistic rite, as they both served as reminders of the Passion. The Madonna and Child with Saints were a reminder of the humanity of Christ, as he was born of Mary, and foreshadowed of his later death. The Crucifix was a poignant reminder of the sacrifice of Christ and the significance of partaking of his body and blood. By including both images an evident contrast was made, forcing the viewer to consider the two most important episodes of Christs life: his bi rth (he was born of the flesh and made man), and his death (he abso lved humanity of their sin). The Crucifix is also the same 30 Wood, Women, Art, and Spirituality 38. 31 Ibid., 39.


45 image in front of which Francis experienced hi s epiphany. In addition to the surface meaning of its iconography, the image also served of a remi nder of Francis perf ect piety and act of commitment. In addition, the physical placement of the Madonna and Child with Saints is important to consider. The image was created on the wall of the apse in the area behind the altar. Jeryldene Wood has suggested that the image was presen t before Saint Francis was canonized in 1228, which would indicate that the image was presen t before the sisters took up residence in the structure.32 It is within this decorative cycle that the grille connecti ng the nuns choir to the apse is located, meaning the only minor indication of the sisters presence in the church within the vicinity of the Virgin. Parallels between the Virg in and the Poor Clares, as well as between the Virgin and Saint Clare, were well established an d would have been recognized by the laity. This placement, in turn, not only allowed the sisters to partake in the mass by listening to it, but also aligned them iconographically with the Virgin and her role as mother. Franciscan woman strove to imitate the Vi rgin; she provided for them an example of perfect piety much like what Saint Francis provide d for the men. In depictions of the Virgin, her figure gradually became much more emotionally involved in the episodes of Christs death, displaying effusive sadness.33 This new psychological aspect of Mary provided for the nuns a perfect form of empathy to emulate in their meditations. The figure of the Virgin closely paralleled Clare. It was said of Saint Francis and Christ that they were so alike in thei r lives that their stories could be interchanged; any aspects missing from ones life could be filled with the aspect of another because of their connection to one 32 Wood, Women, Art, and Spirituality, 39. 33 Adrian S. Hoch, The Passion Cycle: Images to Cont emplate and Imitate Amid Clarissan Clausura, in James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 133.


46 another.34 Clare was viewed in a similar regard to the Virgin, taking on the mothering role to Francis that the Virgin had to Christ.35 It was through this emulation of the Virgin that the sisters were able to form a connection to both Christ and Saint Francis. While their gender hindered them from a complete imitation of their male mast ers, the female figures in their lives provided a link through which a connection could be made. With the placement of the opening of the nuns choir in proximity to the Virgin, the link between them was acknowledged. Franciscan View of Art and Architecture While their precise view s on the usefulness of images were not recorded by either Saint Francis or Saint Clare, it is evident from Francis experience with the San Damiano Crucifix that images were viewed favorably by the order. Mo st scholars agree that the Franciscans were among the most significant patrons of images in th irteenth-century Italymore so than any other order.36 Franciscan images of this period are generally of a narrative format and primarily depict the Passion of Christ. In the earl y thirteenth century the depiction of the Christus Patiens (or Suffering Christ) gradually displaced the previously used type of the Christus Triumphans (or Triumphant Christ).37 The Triumphant Christ transcended suffering and was shown with head erect and eyes open, displaying no pain while on the Cross. The Suffering Christ was depicted with head slumped to one side with eyes clos ed, clearly suffering on the Cross or already in death. Such a dramatic change in depictions s hows the desire of the patrons to emphasize the 34 Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture, (Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1985), 132. 35 Bartoli, Clare of Assisi 13. 36 Anne Derbes and Hayden Maginnis have both written on the use of images within the medieval period in Italy and adhere to this scholarly opinion. The proliferation of Franciscan images has even outnumbered those commissioned by the Dominicans, who were also large pa trons of religious images. Anne Derbes, Picturing the Passion 16. 37 Ibid., 5.


47 psychological and emotional effect of the image, something which was of great importance to the Franciscans.38 As previously noted, both Francis and Clare expr essed a strong affinity with the Eucharist, and this devotion to the sacrifice of Christ became an integral f unction of Franciscan piety and to their images.39 The doctrine of Transubstantiation of the Fourth Lateran Council placed more emphasis on the visual presence of the Host, as it coincided with the rais ing of the Host during the mass. This emphasis on imagery of Christs suffering translated to the supporting images, which were located in close proximity to the alta r. Images of suffering were appropriate, due to the change in meaning of the Host that had take n place. Rather than the consecration of the Host being a reenactment of the last supper, as it was previously, it now repr esented the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. In Francis description of the Host at the moment of transubstantiation he says the wounded and bloodied body of Christ was present at the alta r. Such a shift in meaning was mirrored in the images produced at the time. The prevalence of Franciscan images makes se nse when one considers that their founder was the only figure among the religious leaders of the time who was given the gift of the stigmata. Saint Francis was able to experience the suffering of Christ so completely that he was rewarded with the wounds of Christ.40 This perfect imitation of Christ was central to the Franciscan belief system and served as reminder to their followers of what to strive for. As well as his perfect piety, the figure of Saint Francis was accessible to most everyone in Assisi at the time: Francis aristocratic background appealed to the higher class, while his devotion to poverty 38 Ibid. 5. 39 Derbes points out that the term Franciscan Spir ituality becomes synonymous with the veneration of the suffering of Christ. Ibid., 17. 40 Ibid., 18.


48 allowed him to connect with the poor. His appe al to most people was that he came from a secular, non-pious background, yet was still able to achie ve perfect piety. It was for this reason that images of the life of Sain t Francis were among the most prevalent depictions beside the Passionnot only was there a parallel between his life and suffering and Christs, but he was also a symbol of everyman.41 It can be hypothesized, then, that since the Host was given prominence as an image above other narrative scenes th at adorned church spaces, the Poor Clares would have in turn also privileged it in both their public and private spaces, while using additional decorative cycles as supplemental images and didactic tools to impress its importance and meaning. Research about the structures used by the Poor Clares, particularly in Italy, has been sli ghtly hindered by the fact that many of their structures were appropriated from earlier buildings. In terms of architecture, then, it is difficult to strictly determine how th e Poor Clares intended th eir buildings to function and what features were viewed as being more essential than others In general, the appearance of a nuns choir has been incorporated into mo st known examples, but the meaning of its placement, function, and accessibility have been di fficult to determine. In order to really understand the builders intentions, therefore, it is necessary to look at those institutions which were built for the express purpose of housing the Poor Clares, and not those that were appropriated. Among those which fall into the form er category are Santa Chiara of Assisi, which has been viewed as the sister institution to San Francesco of Assisi and Santa Maria Donna Regina and Santa Chiara in Naples. Each of thes e structures was built with the intent of housing the female order and therefore adhered to th e needs and specifications set forth by them. 41 Ibid., 18.


49 CHAPTER 4 DEVELOPMENT OF CLARISSIAN ART AND ARCHITECTURE Santa Chiara, Assisi Consecrated in 1265, Santa Chiara of Assisi is the location of the body of Saint Clare and was built as the sis ter building to San Francesco, al so located in Assisi, which holds the tomb of Saint Francis. Santa Chiara, the first instituti on created specifically for the women of the Poor Clares, was created on the site of San Gior gio and was available for habitation by 1260.1 Outwardly, the womans church is distinctly reminiscent of San Francesco; this visual similarity reinforces the sibling relationship of the two churches (Fig. 6).2 Both facades are broken into three horizontal bands, with the bottom band divided into two equal sections and including the entrance portal. Between the windows is an imposing rose window, which aligns perfectly with the entrance and is topped off with an oculus window in the remaining third level. The point of the roof merges directly above th e visual trifecta, lead ing the eye of a visi tor up the building to the heavens. Both structures have an accompanying campanile. That of San Francesco is located to the side flanking the main building, while Santa Chiaras Campanile is located directly behind the peaked roof. The most signif icant architectural difference between the exteriors of the two buildings is the presence of the flying buttresses supporting the side of Santa Chiara. The architectural plans of the two buildings al so share similarities (Fig. 7). Both buildings were built in the form of a Latin cross and have one main aisle for the nave, with no side aisles. Both naves are four bays long w ith similar groined cross vaults.3 The presence of flying buttresses supporting the nave hint s at a possible gothic influen ce, which differs from overall 1 Wood, Women, Art, and Spirituality 46. 2 Ibid., 49. 3 Ibid., 49.


50 architectural style of San Francesco.4 There are several discrepancie s in terms of the size of particular features, such as the apse and the arms of the transept, but this is probably due to the different functions of the spaces. As Jeryldene Wood points out, the church of San Francesco served four functions, while Santa Chiara only served two. San Francesco is the shrine and pilgrimage church of Saint Francis, and it is th e monks church as well as the papal seat, while Santa Chiara is the shrine to Sain t Clare and the church of her nuns.5 The influx of people in San Francesco would have been larger due to pilgrimages, and the building therefore required more space, as well as additional room in the apse to accommodate papal proceedings. Certain more significant differences were present in th e Santa Chiara architectural plans that were specific to the wishes of the sisters.6 The most significant of these differences is the location of Saint Clares Tomb the existence of a nuns choir, and the convent. Saint Clares Tomb is one of the most poignant reflections of the womens vow of enclosure. Clares body and tomb are not actually visible to the public; her tomb is located ben eath the stairs leading up to the ma in altar (Fig. 8). Rather than viewing her sarcophagus, visitors are presented with an iron grate, behind wh ich is a lamp with a lit flame, burning in her memory.7 This representation of her presen ce as a bright light concealed behind a grate strikingly symbolizes her role within the Franciscan community as a leader in womans spirituality and foundress of the Poor Clares while s imultaneously respecting her vow 4 For more information regarding the gothic f eatures of Santa Chiara see Jeryldene Woods Women, Art, and Spirituality. 5 Wood, Women, Art, and Spirituality, 49. 6 It is of the opinion of Wood and Ca solini that Santa Chiara was acceptable fo r the needs of the nuns in terms of privacy and daily life. Ibid., 49. 7 Ibid., 50.


51 of seclusion until death and thereafter.8 Clares resistance to beco ming the abbess of the Poor Ladies was outweighed by her dedication to the wishes of Saint Fran cis, propelling her into role of distinction which she did not want. The flame, then, represen ts Clares passion and dedication to the order that allowed it to maintain its primary goals of poverty and seclusion. From the beginning of her life, Clare was associated with li ght; her name, Chiara, or Clare, the clear or bright one foretold the inner wa rmth which she would project out to others. The idea of clarity and light was also present throughout Clarissan c onvents, emphasizing the idea of light as Gods presence; the most sacred areas were su rrounded with immense amounts of illumination.9 The flame representing Clare thus also shows her strong rela tionship to God and the spiritual clarity which she was privileged. This remembrance of Clar e attests to the continued efforts of the nuns to maintain those values Clare had set forth and the recognition of he r exceptional spiritual presence. In accordance with the value of their vows of enclosure, provisions were made for a nuns choir. Alterations have been made to the church over time, but it is believed that the nuns choir would have existed where the Chapel of the S acrament and the Chapel of the Crucifix are located, on the south side of the church (Fig. 9-10).10 Today the two rooms are divided by a modern glass door, but they may have once been one room in which the nuns congregated for mass.11 The chapels open to the nave via a pa ir of double doors; however, it cannot be determined whether a grille or some other type of screen may have once existed so the nuns could hear or observe the mass. The Chapel of the Sacrament connects to the convent via a two8 Ibid., 50. 9 Ibid. 48. 10 Ibid., 52. 11 Ibid., 50.


52 bay corridor that would have provided secluded yet accessible access to the church. Windows on the east side of the Chapel of the Sacrament sugge st that an indirect vi sual line may have once existed for the observation of the Host, but it is more likely that the presence of a window would have only facilitated the nuns ability to hear the sermon rather than their ability to see the Host. As Caroline Bruzelius states: With the explosion of Eucharisti c piety in the 14th c the inabili ty to see the elevation of the host during the mass might have come to have been perceived as such a deprivation (spiritual). But for the 13th c it is important to recall that Christian ity has always contained a tradition that especi ally blessed are those who can be lieve without seeing, touching, or tasting.12 As this building comes from the early architectural period of Clarissan architecture, it is likely that the measures of seclusion in Santa Chiara of Assisi precluded all lik ely aspects of visual interaction between the nuns and the pub lic, including the raising of the Host. It is interesting to note that while the nuns may or may not have been able to see the Eucharist, the laitys view of it w ould have been completely unobscured.13 Since there were no side aisles in the nave, there were no column s to obscure ones view, and additionally, the placement of windows above the altar would have se rved to highlight the action taking place at the altar. Wood makes the observation that the luminous vaults of the crossing above the softly lit, privileged space of the high altar placed over th e saints secret tombgives palpable form to Saint Clares mediation betw een the earthly and divine.14 The lighting and placement of the tomb not only places the focus on the altar and the actions taking place there, but also highlights Clares own shift from the human to the divine. The latter emphasis draw s a parallel between her 12 Bruzelius, Hearing is Believing, 89. 13 Wood, Women, Art, and Spirituality, 48. 14 Ibid. 48.


53 character and the double nature of Christ (human and divine) th at is emphasized through the Eucharist. An analysis of the art of Santa Chiara has been hindered by the fact that the nave and the transepts were all whitewashed in the eighteen th century by order of Bishop Ottavio Spader.15 But although a complete idea of what the lait y viewed during the mass cannot be known, other elements do remain and can offer some insight in to the decorative motif of the church. Images that remain on the left transept intimate that it once held Old Testament scenes, while those on the right transept suggest New Testament scenes Jeryldene Wood proposes that these frescoes duplicate those found in the uppe r church of San Francesco.16 This similarity intimates an attempt to maintain a connection between the two institutions beyond their architectural framework. The frescoes of the choir were de stroyed except for small fragments of sheep; however, because of the similarity between the decorative cycles of the two churches, it can be assumed that these frescoes followed the same pattern as San Francesco.17 If this were the case, the lower wall behind the altar would have once illustrated episodes from the infancy of Christ. The narrative would have provided the congregation with a comple te recitation of the life of Christ, beginning with the prophetic episodes of the Old Testament in the left transept and extending into images leading up to his birth in the right transept. Finally images of Christs birth and infancy would have been located behind the altar. This conti nual narrative would have 15 Ibid., 172. 16 The dating of the frescoes from Santa Chiara has been complicated by questions of chronology, but the majority of the work seems to date from the fourteenth century, including those works adorning the nave and crossing as well as the Chapels of the Sacrament and Crucifixion. Works dating from the thirteenth century are scare decoration seems to have been extremely minimal. The dating on the frescoes from San Francesco have similar problems with dating but generally date from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, leaving the possibility that some of the depictions may have been created simultaneously but has not been shown. Ibid., 172. 17 Ibid., 172.


54 come to a climax when the eyes of the audience were drawn up from the frescoes to the center of the apse where the Eucharist takes place, showing th e sacrifice of Christ as the Host is raised. There is evidence that a Crucifix by the Santa Chiara Master was located above the high altar, showing the Christus Patiens with Saint Fr ancis holding his feet, w ith the Virgin and St. John the Evangelist by either hand (Fig. 11).18 The existence of the Crucifix would have served to reinforce the idea the sacrif ice by aligning the Host with such a clear depiction of his death.19 In addition, it would have created a very clear juxtaposition of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. On the wall behind the altar would have pr esumably been the Nativity, showing Christs birth and the beginning of his humanity, while the Crucifix would have displayed his death. The Host would then not only be a reminder of Christ s death but also of hi s resurrection, for through the Host Christ becomes human once more. The entire narrative can be seen as a continuous cycle of Christs incarnation, with his first incar nation being his birth in the nativity, and his last in the moment of transubstantiation. The Crucifix found in Santa Chiara is also significan t, in that it feat ures Mary slightly more prominently than is normally seen in crucif ixes of this nature. The figure of Mary held particular significance to the P oor Clares in their goal of Imitatio Mariae but she was also closely related to Clare, as Cl are was often viewed as the inca rnate of Mary, much as Francis was viewed as the incarnate of Christ. The li nk between Clare and Mary was perpetuated in imagery, but may also have influenced texts such as the Meditations on the Life of Christ, which featured Mary prominently and emphasized th e goal that the nuns should imitate her. The Crucifix features Mary on the right hand of Christ as she mourns his wound, but she is also 18 Ibid., 52-53. 19 Derbes, Picturing the Passion, 5.


55 shown a second time, which is unusual: She appears again above Christs head in an Orans, or praying, pose flanked by two angels. The Virgin is then situated beneath a small roundel of Christ as Pantokrator, placing her between the two images of Ch rist. Her placement serves to emphasize her status and calls attention to her place in Franciscan imagery.20 The highlighting of Mary in the Crucifixion is give n more weight when other images of the church are considered. Two images found in the transept crossing particul arly bolster this theor y. Located side by side are images of the Madonna and Child and the Santa Chiara Dossal (Fig. 12). It has already been established that Clare was regarded by many as a foil of Mary, so the juxtaposition of these images highlights the associati on between the two women and the importance that was in turn transferred to Mary by the Clares. Subtly maintaining the Virgins presence within the public space of the church acknowledges the nuns presence without their overt display. The iconography of the Santa Chiara Crucifix may have been based loosely on the Talking Crucifix brought from San Damiano, but the meaning and importance of this crucifix mostly likely relegated it to private use, as many of th e most important images typically were. While not much of the decorative narrative from the public worship space remains, it is possible to observe that two themes were em phasized. The first was an overall link to San Francesco. After many turbulent years in which th e relationship between the Poor Clares and the Franciscans was continuously que stioned, the Clares maintained a clear connection between the burial place of their foundr ess and that of their br others founder. Because of similar structures and decorative programs, the laity were able to observe a clear conne ction between the two spaces, as well as recognize the additional sacrifices made by the women in the differences between the two. The maintenance of a clear connection between the two institutions would have 20 Wood, Women, Art, and Spirituality 52.


56 been essential to the acceptance of Santa Chiara as a Franciscan institution. While the Clares were recognized as the second orde r of the Franciscans, they were not able to travel and preach as their brothers did. Since their preaching was commonly what the Franciscans were identified with and not established church es, it was increasingly important to establish a clear visual connection to one of their most well known institutions.21 Secondly, it is clear that the decorative program would have supported the vision of the Host during the Eucharis t by allowing the action to complete the surrounding narrative. The placement of the decorative themes allowed the altar to become the core of the decora tive cycle and, as a result, focused the attention of the laity; the Host then becomes the most emphasized and sought imagery in the church. While the laity focused their attention on the altar, the nuns vi ew would have been enclosed by their choir. It has been put forwar d by Jeryldene Wood that th e original nuns choir would have been placed in a room combining wh at are now the chapels of the Sacrament and the Crucifix.22 It is plausible that to surmise that thes e two chapels would have been used by the nuns for worship, when the decorative narratives of both rooms are considered together. The nuns ability to view the Eucharist would have depended on an opening in the wall, and if no opening existed, they would have been left to contemplate the images surrounding them. Located on the walls of the Chapel of the Sacrament are as follows: (entrance wall, upper register) The Annunciation (lower register) Saint George and the Princess, The Nativity and The Adoration ; (left wall, upper register) Descent from the Cross, Entombment, and Resurrection of Christ, 21 As Le Goff relates, as of the 13th century Minors still considered Portincula their ideal location. Franciscans took little interest in creatin g church buildings as their primary function was to travel and preach. Their preaching tended to occur outside of the church, to take place out of doors in the town square, in homes, by the roadsides, wherever there were people. It created its own space for itsel f or changed the public space into the space of the word of salvation. Such attitudes meant a lack of institutions with which the Clares could associate themselves and thus increased the importance that San Francesco had for them. Le Goff, Saint Francis of Assisi,111. 22 Wood, Women, Art, and Spirituality 168.


57 (lower register) Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints Clare, John the Baptist, Michael, Francis and a nun ; (altar wall) Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Ma ry Magdalene, Saint Clare, Saint Francis, and Saint Agnes of Assisi ; (right wall) Saint Lucy which is now lost. Located in the Chapel of the Crucifix are at the entrance, depictions of Clare as Misericordia, Madonna and Child with Saints Anne, Jerome, Roch, and Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata In addition there is a dossal which depicts an icon of Sa int Clare surrounded by episodes of her life. These particular scenes would have served several purposes for the Clarisse enclosed there. Primarily they were surrounded by images of devout Franciscan saints, many of whom were female (Clare, Catherine, Agnes, and Lucy). The presence of these pa rticular Saints would have provided the woman with examples upon whic h they could model their spirituality: women who exemplify sacrifice through martyrdom (Catherine and Lucy ) or enclosure (Clare and Agnes). In addition to the women there are several images of Francis, serving as reminder of the nuns link to their Franciscan brothers as well as to Francis achievement of the goal of perfect identification with Christ. Even more significant is the presence of s cenes from the Passion and their absence from the public area where the Host would have been vi ewed. The presence of the scenes in the choir may suggest that woman may not have been able to view the Eucharis t and would have only heard the ceremony. However, there is the absen ce of an actual crucifixion scene, which should be kept in mind; An image depicting the moment of Christs sacrifice would have been crucial for the nuns meditation. Rather than seeing the Ho st and, in effect, the body and resurrection of Christ, they could view the cruc ifixion and visualize themselves being present. Excluded from the publics experience of Christ, the nuns were forced to envision the event on their own, and the absence of a crucifixion s cene would have hindered the process. A solution may have been


58 the presence of an additional icon or panel depict ing the crucifixion that was more central to the area of worship for the nuns, rather than a fresco. It has been reported that the Talking Crucifix from San Damiano was brought to Santa Chiara, and it is possible that it resi ded in the choir with the nuns.23 The Talking Crucifix was the same crucifix before which Saint Francis received his epiphany. Its presence in the nuns area would have been profound: It would have served as a reminder not only of Christs deat h, but also the perfect devotion of Saint Francis that provided him with the wounds of Christ. The cross too, w ould have been surrounded by images of other, mainly female, saints that also displayed extrem e devotion to Christ. Visu ally, the experience of the choir would have stimulated intense emo tion and reverence as the mass was heard. It is evident that the frescoes in the room were meant to allow for a contemplation of the life of Christ, and the absences of a scene depic ting the exact moment of his crucifixion suggests that an emphasis was placed on it in some other from, judging from the remainder of the narrative episodes and their chronol ogy. While the laity was experi encing the divine image that was the Host, the nuns would have been cont emplating the meaning of the sacrifice and observing how their own spirituality reflected that of their predecessors in obtaining an intimate knowledge of Christ. Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples Santa Maria Donna Regina, located in Naples, wa s lik e most Poor Clare institutions in that it was once a Benedictine house; however, in 1293 an earthquake damaged most of the conventual buildings, rendering it useless. It is for this reason that it is not being looked at as an appropriated structure. In 1298 Queen Maria of Hungary took an interest in the building and became part of a major reconstruction plan which would transform the structure into a Clarissian 23 Ibid., 51.


59 convent.24 The finished structure was consecrated in 1320 and allows for the observance of changes that took place in Clar issan architecture as the orde r expanded and developed after Clares death.25 Particularly important to the understanding of this building is the in fluence and effect of the patronage, especially what as pects were dictated by the Clares and which came from Maria of Hungary. This consideration w ill be crucial in looking at decora tive motifs and architecture in order to show which aspects were important e nough to be specified by the Clares and were central to their spiritual well being. Specific attention will be paid to th e availability of the Eucharistic rite to the sisters and the significance of images in both the public and private areas of the complex. Queen Maria of Hungary played a very instrume ntal role in the rea lization of Santa Maria Donna Regina as a Clarissian in stitution; it was of great impor tance to her personally and is probably the location of her tomb. The funds for th e construction of the convent were taken from the Queens personal funds. As Rosa Anna Ge novese reports, she ord ered her treasurer, Anselotto de Lumiriaco, to pay 40 ounces of gol d for the construction of the dormitory in 1298 and added to this in the following years.26 The reason for the Queens interest in the Franciscan order and in particular the Poor Clares has been open to debate, as not much has been written on the Queen specifically. Maria of Hungary was bo rn in 1257 to Stephen V of Hungary and in 24 Caroline Bruzelius, The Stones of Naples: Church Building in Angevin Italy 1266-1343 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 99. 25 Ibid., 99. 26 Rosa Anna Genovese, History of the Building and Restoration of the Trecento Church, in James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2004),14.


60 1270 she traveled to the Kingdom of Naples, where she married Charles of Anjou, placing her within the Angevin monarchy.27 In general, scholars agree that because the Angevin monarchy was a large supporter of the Franciscan order, Maria was in turn a s upporter. However, as Samantha Kelly has shown, though numerous Franciscan establishments were created as a result of the Angevins royal patronage, for the most part the family was very di plomatic in regard to the distribution of their funds.28 While Maria did commission several in stitutions, her husband, Charles II, was instrumental in commissioning a number of Domi nican buildings, giving equal attention to both of the rivals. These contributions were in a ddition to those made by Charles I, who did not distinguish between orders in his patronage. It seems, then, that the inte rest that Queen Maria of Hunga ry took in the Franciscans was from personal interests, rather than due to familial devotion to the order. In addition to Santa Maria Donna Regina, she commissioned San Giovanni a Nido, which was also Franciscan, as well as San Pietro a Castello, a Dominican convent where her sister became the abbess.29 Her patronage alone shows that there was not an overwhelming sense that she favored the Franciscans. Rather, it was her final decision in life to be buried at Sa nta Maria Donna Regina 27 Ibid., 14. 28 Samantha Kelly, Religious Patronage and Royal Propaganda in Angevin Naples: Santa Maria Donna Regina in Context in James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 3233. Previous scholarship has speculated that the Angevin monarchy was partial to the Franciscans because of the defense of them during the Popes condemnation of Franciscan poverty in the 1310s and 1320s. It was at this point that the Franciscans were divided over the principle of absolute apostolic poverty and divided into two opposing wings, the Spiritual and the Conventual; the Spiritual favoring physical poverty and living as Christ and the Apostles did, while the Conventuals favored a theoretical poverty in which their belongings were owned by the papacy but were available for their use. The Kings son was tutored by the Spiritual Franciscans and the Queen harbored several Spiritual Franciscans during tense times with the papacy, which is what garnered their reputation as supporters; however, Samatha Kelly offers supporting evidence to show that additional factors should be taken into consideration and that they may not have been as dedicated to the order as previously suggested. Kelly, Religious Patronage and Royal Propaganda, 140. 29 Ibid., 32.


61 that truly showed where her l oyalty lay, as she could have chosen from several religious institutions to bequeath her body. The architectural plan of the church is cons istent with the restrictions set forth by Clare regarding enclosure, while maintaining a f unctioning space for the laity (Fig. 13-14). While much of the church was construc ted as a result of the influence of Maria of Hungary, she also employed Fra Ubertino de Cremona, a Franciscan praepositus or supervisor, to oversee the project and address any concerns regarding the spiritual necessities of the structure.30 The increasing strictness of the rules of enclosure at the time made it necessary that members of the clergy participate in the planni ng of the building so that no fl aws could be found with the nuns. In addition to architectural precautions, Caroline Bruzeilus points out the necessity of efficient construction, so that the woman would be moved as quickly as possible to the complex and risk the least amount of exposure to the public as possible.31 The church is two stories tall, with the lo wer level reserved for the public and the upper portion used solely by the nuns. The basilica style plan consists of a nave, which is six bays long and divided into three sections with one main aisle and two side aisles. The ceiling is composed of Gothic ribbed vaults and supports the sec ond story by transferring the weight into the octagonal columns that articulate th e separation of the side aisles.32 Small windows located beneath the nuns choir illuminate the nave but, b ecause of their size, leave the interior fairly dim.33 The nave leads to a polygonal apse that extends up to the second story, opening up the space as one approaches the altar and placing emphasis on this end of the sanctuary. 30 Bruzelius, Architectural Context 79. 31 Ibid., 79. 32 Ibid, 83. 33 Ibid., 83.


62 The nuns choir is located on the second story of the nave and was planned to be only three bays long but was extended during construc tion to accommodate the growing number of nuns.34 The choir then extends two-thirds of the way down the nave before the space is opened up (Fig. 15). The choir would have experienced cons iderably more light than the nave (Fig. 16). The nave was illuminated by only three small windows, while the choir absorbed light from both the back and front of the church; there were two lancet widows and an oculus window on the west wall over the entrance, three lancet wi ndows on each of both of the side walls of the sanctuary space (between the choir and the apse), and six illuminating the apse.35 The lighting in the building would have created a subtle architectural hierarchy. Whereas the earthly area of the nave would have been the dimmest, the more spiritual area of the nuns would have been dramatically lighter, while the most important area, the apse, would have been completely illuminated by the six large lancet windows; as th e lighting became brighter, so did the spiritual clarity. As seen in Santa Chiara in Assisi, the aspect of light within Clarissan churches was an important theme, and this is especially true of Santa Maria Donna Regina Just as the light in Clares Tomb related to both her character and the spiritual light of God, the illumination of the apse served to brighten the physical space where Christ became incarnate, as well as clarify the laitys understanding of his sacrif ice. The light was a visual me taphor for the laity; as they moved from darkness to light, th ey left their earthly experien ce for the divine and achieved spiritual clarity. The meaning of Chiara as light would have made this transition even more 34 James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 3. 35 Bruzelius, Architectural Context, 83.


63 prominent; as one entered the church, one would have entered the light, allowing multiple layers of meaning to be extracted. The view of the choir from the apse today shows no separating walls or grilles, but this would not have been the case when it was built. In most instances metal grilles are not found in their original locations, and it is probable that there would have been some sort of enclosure confining the sisters.36 As mentioned earlier, Santa Maria D onna Regina was consecrated within a short proximity of B oniface VIIIs mandate of Periculoso which would have made the nuns enclosure essential. In addition, very close to Santa Maria Donna Regina is the Cathedral of Naples, which was run at the time of the Sant a Maria Donna Reginas construction by the Augustinian Giacomo da Viterbo, who was known fo r his strict adherence to papal law and therefore would not have tolerated any laxness in the sisters enclosure.37 The location of the choir above the altar w ould have allowed for the partial viewing and hearing of the service but it would have limited the ability of the nuns to take communion when it was given (Fig. 17). It is likely that the room adjacent to the apse was used as a sacristy, as Bruzelius and G. Chierici have noted.38 At one point partitions may have existed to facilitate areas for confession and an environment in which communion for the nuns could take place.39 The space was accessible via two entrances, one from the apse, for the clergy to administer the rites, and the other from the convent area, a llowed for a discreet entrance for the nuns. 36 Ibid., 82. 37 Ibid,, 82. 38 Bruzelius, Architectural Context 83. See also G. Chierici, Il Restauro della Chiesa Santa Maria Donnaregina a Napoli, (Naples: Francesco Giannini e Figli, 1980). 39 Ibid., 83.


64 The only architectural element that interferes with the walls in the nuns choir is the overlap of a lancet window as a result of the extension of its length, which was covered in order to avoid any exposure of the sisters, as we ll as to provide additional flat surfaces.40 The remaining walls of the nuns choir are comple tely smooth and rectangular, which, Bruzelius suggests, shows an intention to decorate the interior with frescoes from its very inception.41 The decorative narratives would have provided images upon which the nuns could meditate while listening to the mass. Decorative frescoes such as these have been seen in other Clarissian convents and so would not have been viewed as unusual; however, because the Queen was personally financing the endeavor, all decora tions were more detailed than was usual.42 The visual representations in Santa Maria D onna Regina offer a variety of images to consider in relation to the spiritual needs of the nuns versus those of the laity. While the images present in both areas would have related back to the larger narrative approach taken by the Franciscans in the decoration, part icular narratives would have been more beneficial to the nuns, wheras others would have been more poignant to the public. It will be shown, however, that both groups strongly related to th e celebration of the Eucharis t and placed emphasis on Jesus Sacrifice, using the Host as the primary image and the decorative narratives as supplemental imagery. Of particular interest are those frescos found on the wa lls of the nuns choir, in the nave, and on the triumphal arch of the church. Probably the most predominant of the decorative cycles in Santa Maria Donna Regina is the Passion narrative located on the north wall of the nuns choir. The cycle consists of three 40 Ibid., 81. 41 Ibid., 81. 42 Other Clarissian churches with similar decorative cycles include San Pietro in Vineis in Anagni, Santa Maria Iacobi in Nola, and San Sebastiano in Alatri. Ibid., 81.


65 horizontal registers that are each divided into five compartments. The frescoes date from the same period of the structure, which attests to the initial intention of adorning the space. Each of the compartment details one or more scenes of the Passion narrative as dictated mainly from The Meditations on the Life of Christ (Fig. 18). The Meditations on the Life of Christ was composed by a Franciscan friar for the expre ss benefit of the Poor Clares. Th e writing addresses the topic of meditation, namely which images and scenarios woul d be beneficial for the Franciscan woman to contemplate and which figures th ey should strive to imitate.43 Many of the scenes represented in the frescoes are those highlighted within the Meditations or address key themes emphasized in the reading. The scenes in the narrative were read starting fr om the top left scene across to the right and down to the bottom right, and ending with a vert ical reading (top to bot tom) of the two final scenes located in the patched lancet window. The fi rst row deals with the events leading up to the judgment of Christ, the second deal s with the judgment and sacrific e of Christ, the third offers a series of appearances of Christ followed by scen es of doubt, and the final two scenes serve as closure with the Ascension and Pentecost (Figs. 19-20).44 The top row of scenes was damaged during later alterations, causing th e top of most of the scenes to be rendered indecipherable. The bottom of the register, however, remains partiall y intact, allowing for a partial reading of the scenes. As Adrian Hoch points out, the top ro w is the only grouping of scenes dedicated to individual events in each bay, which suggests that additional narrative scenes may have been present in the uppermost halves of the bays before the damage.45 43 Adrian S. Hoch, The Passion Cycle: Images to Contem plate and Imitate Amid Clarissan Clausura, in Adrian S James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 129. 44 Ibid., 129. 45 Ibid., 130.


66 Proceeding from left to right, the scenes of the top register depict the following: The Last Supper, Communion of the Apostles, Washi ng of the Feet, Agony in the Garden, and The Betrayal of Christ (Figs. 21-25). It is interesting to note that the regist er begins with the last supper and serves to immediately draw the attent ion of the viewer to Eucharistic rites, which would be occurring simultaneously with viewing.46 The next register contains images that are more complex in their treatment. Unlike the first re gister, where single scenes were depicted, the second register contains bays that contain multip le narrative events occurring within a single context. The individual events of the scenes are not arranged in chronological order, nor are they separated from each other in an easily distinguishable way.47 This arrangement causes the viewer to really invest himor herself in the images to decipher what is occurring, in a way making the meditative process occur more naturally through the initia l contemplation. The sixth scene, and the first in the second regi ster of the program, offers the most visual information but increasingly difficult to understand. In the space are episodes of Christ before the High Priests Annas and Caiaphas the Denial of Saint Peter the Denision and first Stripping of Christ and The Flagellation (Fig. 26). All of the scenes ar e extricable even when bound to one another by the compaction of figures, but it takes a discerning eye to place them.48 The intent of meditation would have made these scen es more appropriate, as their function was to evoke thoughtdiscerning the scenes would have s timulated the nuns interest and aided in the process of meditation. The seventh scene shows the beginning of the judgment of Christ with the first Judgment of Pilate and Christ before Herod (Fig. 27). The eighth continues with his judgment and humiliation, with the incorporation of the second Judgment of Pilate Crowning of 46 Ibid., 144. 47 Ibid., 130. 48 Ibid., 130.


67 Thorns the second Stripping of Christ, and The Way to Calvary (Fig. 28). The ninth scene leads to the climax of the narrative by depicting the third Stripping of Christ and the Ascent to the Cross (Fig. 29). The tenth and final scen e of the register ends with the Crucifixion emphasizing Christs sacrifice (Fig. 30).49 The final register deals with Christs existence after death, highlighting his appearances to his followers and their doubt.50 Scene eleven begins the series with episodes from the Deposition Lamentation and Burial (Fig. 31). The next bay represents Christs Descent to Limbo and Resurrection.51 Sections thirteen and fourteen il lustrate the various apparitions of Christ. Scene thirteen depicts the Three Marys Before the Empty Tomb, Noli me Tangere and (partially on the top, which ha s been obscured due to damage) Christ Appearing to Joseph of Arimathea in Prison and Christ Appearing to the Virgin (Fig. 32).52 The next scene depicts Christ Appearing to the Two Marys Returning from the Tomb, Christ Appearing to James Son of Alphaeus and Christs Appearance to Saint Peter on the top, and Christs Appearance to the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus and Christs Appearance to the Disciples Behind Closed Doors with Supper at Emmaus on the bottom (Fig. 33).53 The fifteenth and final section of the bottom register depicts scenes dealing with doubt in Christs resurrection. The images illustrated are Incredulity of Thomas and Christ Appearing to the Disciples at Supper (Fig. 34).54 The top of this image has also been obscured because of da mage; it may have provided additional episodes, 49 Ibid., 130. 50 Ibid., 130. 51 Ibid., 130. 52 Ibid., 130. 53 Ibid., 130. 54 Ibid., 130.


68 but it is now impossible to tell. Finally, the last two narratives appear in the filled lancet window; read top to bottom they serve to conclude the narrative with the Ascension and Pentecost .55 While the scenes were meant to be read horiz ontally, a vertical read ing is possible. By viewing the images in small groupings of three, abbreviated narratives can be seen. All sections when read from top to bottom convey a transiti on from Christs physical to spiritual being. Typically the top and bottom scenes serve to create a link between the three while the center expounds acts of suffering endured in the Pa ssion. The first grouping consists of the Last Supper Christ before the High Priests Stripping of Christ, Flagellation Deposition and Lamentation This grouping acts as a symbolic beginni ng and ending of Christs trial. The Last Supper announces his imminent death, as we ll as its necessity; th e second portion of scen es solidifies his claims of suffering, while the Deposition and Lamentation bring it to fruition. The second grouping consists of the Communion of the Apostles the First Judgment of Christ before Pilate Christ before Herod, Descent into Limbo and Resurrection These episodes thematically depict Christs sacrifice for hu manity as represented by the apostles. In the Communion of the Apostles Christ provides his apostles with his symbolic body to foreshadow their redemption. In the Descent to Limbo and Resurrection Christ has then given his body and is shown in the act of redeeming humanit y. The third section brings together Washing of Feet Second Judgment before Herod Crowning of Thorns Stripping of Christ Noli me Tangere and apparitions of Christ. This pa rticular grouping focuses on those tactile episodes of Christs Passion. The Washing of Feet in which Christ provides the humb le act for his disciples, the Crowning of Thorns which depicts one of several scenes in which the physical mutilation of Christ takes place, and lastly Noli me Tangere in which Mary Magdalene is denied the 55 Ibid. 130 131.


69 capability to experience Christs physical presence through touch. This particular segment, it seems, would have been poignant to the nuns, who were denied the ability to physically experience the Host as the laity was. The fourth portion brings together the Agony in the Garden Stripping of Christ and various apparitions of Christ. This grouping asserts Christs own trial and triumph. The Agony of the Garden would have served as a primary scene for understanding the emotional trials of Christ; the resolution in the apparitions, however, serves to provide the ju stification for his acts. The fourth and final grouping serves to hi ghlight the idea of doubt. By combining the Betrayal of Christ Crucifixion and the Incredulity of Thomas the narrative serves to show humans tendency to doubt and to highlight the consequences of doubt and betrayal as it was played out in the Crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Wh ile a connection can be drawn in many of the scenes, it can easily be seen that some work bett er in a grouping than others, and while all depict images of the Passion narrative, viewing them in alternative ways doe s provide interesting parallels. Whether or not the artis t intended for them to be read vertically as well as horizontally cannot be known. While the overall theme of the Passion and Re surrection would suggest an affiliation with the Eucharist, which, it has been shown, had pa rticular importance to the Franciscans, other aspects of the narrative show its specific appropriateness for th e Clarisse woman. The use of the Meditations as a source for the scenes is significan t because of its intended use by the sisters.56 Evidence for the use of the Meditations in the creation of the narrativ es can be attested to in several ways. First and foremost, the Meditations was intended to aid in interactive devotion, 56 Fleck, Visual and Textual Literacy 111.


70 making its use in the space extremely appropriate.57 Additionally, as Cathleen Fleck points out, certain scenes such as Christ Appearing to the Virgin Mary and Christ Appearing to his Disciples on the Road to Emmaus combine the same biblical a nd non-biblical narratives found in the Meditations.58 Other scenes, such as the Descent into Limbo appear in the Meditations and not in the Bible. Furthermore, remnants of text have been found throughout the frescoes that relate to passages found in the Meditations.59 Due to the choirs intended audience, there was a need for figures that would be relatable to fema le viewers. Mary, who ha d already been seen as an established role model for religious wome n, was then emphasized to a higher degree. As Hoch notes, The Meditations mention Mary so much as to be characterized as imitatio Mariae rather than imitatio Christi.60 This emphasis on Mary also appears in the frescoes, with Mary appearing fourteen times throughout the course of the narrative.61 The idea of nuns modeling their actions on those of Mary would have been extremely poignant when they viewed her progress through the narrative. While Mary is able to travel through the narrative an d witness the events leading up to Chri sts death, the Clarisse are subject to the enclosure of the nuns choir.62 Since the Franciscans were known for their dedication to itinerant preaching, this would have allowed th e nuns to mentally par ticipate by focusing on 57 The author of the Meditations referred to by scholars as Pseudo-Bonav enture, states at the beginning of his writing, if you wish to profit you must be present at the same things that it is related that Christ did and said, joyfully and rightly, leaving behind all other cares and a nxieties. As quoted by Cathleen Fleck, To Exercise Yourself in These Things by Continued Contemplation: Visu al and Textual Literacy in the Frescoes at Santa Maria Donna Regina, in Adrian S James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 109. 58 Fleck, Visual and Textual Literacy, 111. 59 Ibid., 112. 60 Hoch, The Passion Cycle 133. 61 Ibid., 133. 62 Ibid., 133.


71 Marys Vita Activa while they were restricted to vita contemplative.63 Just as there was a shift, between the eleventh century and the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, from depictions of the Triumphant Christ to the Dead Christ, resulting in an increas ed emotionality, the same held true for images of Mary. Whereas the figure of Mary was previously shown without an overt sense of emotion, usually looking straight out at the viewer rather than fully engaging with her environment, she now becomes psychologically i nvested in the events which occur. Throughout the narrative Mary is shown twice fainting, as well as attempting to cover her nude son and support his weight as he ascends the cross.64 This increased emotionality would have allowed the nuns to experience a more natural reaction to the s acrifice as they were ab le to witness the pain shown in Marys face. Increased emotionality in her depiction allowed a fuller understanding of her emotions and would have provided for an accessible way to achieve imitate Mariae.65 The images would also have shown her strengt h through her actions. This strength in her character is shown in her noti ceable absence from those scenes dealing with doubt; her abundant presence throughout makes her absence from these particular episodes stand out.66 The simple reason for this may have been that Mary didn t doubt and thus was not included. As the nuns contemplated the scenes and their relationship to the Virgin, they would have been reminded that the Virgin never questioned the resurrection and meaning of Chri st. Hoch points out that John 21:29 states, Blessed are they that have not se en and yet have believed, which would have been known to the sisters.67 While it would have had resonance with their faith to believe in 63 Ibid. 133. 64 Ibid., 133-134. 65 Ibid,, 135. 66 Ibid,, 135. 67 Ibid,, 142.


72 Christs sacrifice in general, it would have held even more mean ing when one considers that in the choir their view of the body of Christ wa s obscured, preventing th em from the visual confirmation of his sacrifice. While the nuns were not able to either see or physically take part in the Eucharist as it occurred in the mass below, measures were taken so that they could visu alize the experience. As noted, the first scene in the first register of the narrative was the Last Supper which provided them with a visual representation of the meal in which Christ enacted the first Eucharistic rite. In addition, Hoch has pointed out that three more supper scenes were added to supply ample imagery for the sisters to meditate upon as the rite takes place: The Last Supper, Communion of the Apostles Supper at Emmaus and Christ Appearing to His Disciples at Supper .68 The prevalence of supper images placed an emphasis on the Eucharist, but the impact of these images cant be fully understood until other factors are taken into account.69 The use of the Meditations as a source testifies to the fact that the images were used for meditation. For a viewer to fully immerse herself in an episode there needed to be detailed descriptions for her to visualize. Catheleen Fleck has suggested that this idea has been translated into the supper scenes: The Last Supper, for example, is expanded into three scenes to allow the viewer to prolong her consideration of the even t. The initial scene is the Last Supper with Christ and the apostles around a table. Frame P2 [the followi ng frame] of the Pa ssion cycle depicts the Communion of the Apostles Frame P3 [the third frame] shows Christ washing the apostles feet. This progression follows the instructions in the Meditations relating to the Last Supper to contemplate each narrative detail and co nsider its implication.70 The choice to provide such a detailed account of the Last Supper events suggests that it was a main focus for the nuns. As the viewer progresse s through the scenes, she then encounters other 68 Ibid., 143. 69 Ibid., 143. 70 Fleck, Visual and Textual Literacy 118.


73 supper scenes to remind her of th e initial scenes and to reinforce her experience with them. A further reminder of the Eucharist can be found in the formal quali ties of the supper scenes. Each of the tables represented in the episodes are depicted as being ci rcular, rather than rectangular. The actual surface from which the fi gures are dining mimics the shape of the wafer and serves as a visual reminder of the importance of the Host In addition, as seen previously, Bynum has made a clear connection between re ligious womens affinities for f ood. This is particularly true with the Eucharist, as it was a womans function to create and serve the meal; here Christ is serving his followers, thus allowing the sisters in this instance to imitate Christ.71 The role of the Queen Mary also needs to be taken into consideration when viewing the decoration of the nuns choir. The scenes which have been selected would have been known to her, as she was aware of the Mediations, which could suggest he r involvement in their selection.72 The Queen was meant to spend the later years of her life within Santa Maria Donna Regina as a Poor Clare; although this never happened, it might explain the incorporation of these female based scenes, as she would have been aware of her own need for meditation once she entered the order. In addition, the Angevins had a history of venerating the Virgin, which may or may not have played a part in he r abundant presence in the scenes.73 Is it most likely, though, that her inclusion was more a result of her role in the Meditations than because of familial worship. More likely is that familial influence can be seen in the Life of Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia-Hungary, which appears on the opposite wall of the nuns choir along with the lives of other female saints, including Catherine of Al exandria and Saint Agat ha. Saint Elizabeth of 71 Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast 36. 72 Hoch, The Passion Cycle 147-149. 73 Ibid., 133.


74 Thuringia-Hungary was Marias grea t aunt and as such would have served as a family reference within the choir.74 The remainder of the church offers an insight into the devotional im ages that would have been accessible to the laity. Excl usion is often thought of solely in terms of the nuns, but the general public would not have had access to the images in the choi r. Rather, they were able to observe only those in the nave and altar area of the church. Santa Maria Donna Regina is rare in that a good portion of the frescoes in the main church have been preserved. Those images that remain exist mainly in the area between where th e nuns choir ends and the triumphal arch which frames the opening to the altar (F ig. 35). Located on the side walls of the nave are depictions of pairs of Prophets and Apostles, while the triumphal arch is outlined with Angelic Choirs (Figs. 36). As Hisashi Yakou points out in his analysis of the churchs interior, the appearance of a pair of painted figures such as the Prophets and Apostles is fairly rare.75 Most instances of similar treatments of saints are found in mosaics and are typically found over doorways.76 Yakou suggests these figures are acting as guardians for th e sacred interior space of the church and in the same manner the Prophets and the Apostles can be viewed as sentinels guarding the gateway leading to the apse.77 However, it may be more likely that their presence is serving as a reminder and guide to the laity, showing them th e way to the apse where they are then meant with a chorus of angels and the body of Christ. Of the sets of figures one is usually shown 74 Kelly, Religious Patronage and Royal Propaganda 38. 75 Hisachi Yakou, Contemplating Angels and the Madonna of the Apocalypse, in Adrian S James Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art Iconography and Patronage (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 98. 76 Ibid., 98. 77 Ibid., 98.


75 holding a book while the other gestures toward itindicating to the viewer the Word and possibly, since those shown are prophets, indicati ng those episodes which foretold his sacrifice. As one proceeds further into th e nave a triumphal arch, which frames the entrance to the apse, is encountered. Located around the arch are Angelic Choirs singing joyfully as they peer inward toward the altar. The presence of the lancet windows lining the polygonal apse fills the space with light, almost dissolving the walls and making it seem as though the angels are presenting the light, which in most cases is symbolic of Gods presence.78 The uppermost portion of the frescos of both the nave and the arch are obscured because of the sixteenth-century addition of a false ceiling. As both Bruzelius and Yakou have pointed ou t, an oculus window also existed at the apex of th e triumphal arch and, in turn, would have been the area around which the angels were gathered.79 The round window would have crea ted a separate and specific ray of light which may have symbolized the presen ce of God in the church as the sacrifice of his son took place below. The presence of angels su rrounding the light is common due to the belief that angels were able to contemplate God wit hout being blinded by his glory; no others could contemplate God unless they did so via the body and blood of Christ.80 The effect that the entire scene would have had on the laity would have been very dramatic. As the public traveled down the dark corridor of the nave, the space suddenly opened up in to an airy illuminated area covered with Prophets and Apostles showing them the word of God and leading them to the apse where they are greeted by Angelic Choirs and an interior filled with light, separating the earthly area of the nave from the spiritual space of the altar. Above all of this was the oculus window admitting the li ght of God surrounded by angels, while below the 78 Ibid. 101. 79 Ibid., 101. 80 Ibid. 101.


76 Priest carries out the rituals of the mass. All of this leads up to the final moment in which the Host is raised and the body of Christ is shown and becomes the prefect image. The laity was not presented with the specific episodes of the Passion leading to Christs sacrifice, as the nuns were. It is significant to note that the laity was the audi ence that was able to view the raising of the Host while the nuns were not. Those that were presented with the physical body of Christ didnt need to be reminded of the Passion episodes; they were viewing its result. The nuns, unable to view the resurrected Christ, were provided with a detailed account of the events leading the Christs death, showing the need for images to allow them to fully incorporate themselves into the Eucharistic proceedings. The laity was visually directed to the core area, while being presented to it by t hose who predicted and witnessed the importance of Christs sacrifice. Just as the nuns were encouraged not to doubt Chri st with the absence of Mary from certain scenes in the narrative, the laity was also persuaded no t to doubt by the verification of Christs sacrifice by the Prophets and Apostles While both populations were presented with different visual experiences, both culminated with the image of the Host, whether physically or mentally, and served to link the experiences of the two. Santa Chiara, Naples The f inal church to be considered is the latest in date and shows particularly well how the architecture of Clarisse structures developed in such a way as to accommodate both the seclusion of the nuns and their ability to ta ke part in the Eucharistic rite All of the previous churches exemplified the primacy of sound over sight but in Santa Chaira of Naples sight takes on much more meaning. However, as the fourteenth century progressed, it became more and more important to view the Host as the body of Christ, and that grow ing need can be seen in the establishment of the church of Santa Chiara in Naples. The church was begun in 1310 by Queen Sancia and Robert the Wise of the Angevin mo narchy. Sancia was the daughter-in-law of Queen


77 Maria of Hungary and shared her passion for th e Poor Ladies of the Franciscan order. The majority of the church was completed by 1328, but final additions are r ecorded as not being made until 1340.81 Erected within a short time of Sant a Maria Donna Regina, Santa Chiara was the second Clairissan church in Naples and the largest ever built for the Poor Clares, which allowed for its use in state ceremonies.82 Modeled after San Damiano, Santa Chiara is among the first Clarissian churches with spaces that allowed for the visualization of the Eucharist by the nuns. The layout of the church is bifurcated, meaning that two popula tions faced each other (Fig. 38)83. As opposed to in other churches, where the nuns are above the laity in a gallery or to th e side of them in a converted chapel area, the nuns choir in Santa Chiara is located directly behind the altar (Fig. 39). Meanwhile, the laity would have been directly acr oss from the sisters, with only the altar wall separating them (Fig. 40) 84. This is significant in that the altar now becomes the core area of the building. Previously, while there wa s a strict division between public and private sections of the church, both audiences were still focused on the sa me sermon which served as a link between the two spheres. However, in this case the altar took on an entirely different role in bringing the two spheres together: Whereas before it was only th e common factor, here it is the physical link between the two. Not only is a physical relationship formed by the centering of the altar between the nuns choir and the laity, but the wall that separates the two parties was fitted with three openings that 81 Bruzelius, Hearing is Believing 140. 82 Ibid., 87. 83 Carola Jggi,. Eastern Cho ir or Western Gallery? The Problem of the Places of the Nuns Choir in Knigsfelden and Other Early Mendicant Nunneries, Gesta 40.1 (2001), 86; Bruzelius, Hearing is Believing 88. 84 Bruzelius, Hearing is Believing 88.


78 provided the sisters with a partial view of the proceedings (Fig. 41).85 The windows were grated and placed directly above the altar. The view that this allowed was not of the entire ritual but rather of one specific moment, the raising of the Host.86 Thus, particular effort was made in allowing the sisters to witness the most important act of the mass, the tran substantiation. In turn, the sisters were also presented with the most important image in the church as they viewed the body of Christ. The danger of allowing such ope nings did not go unnoticed. So as to discourage curiosity by the public, eight-inch sp ikes pointed out from the grat es toward the nave, creating a threatening barrier.87 In addition, it is plausible that some sort of curtain may have been placed over the opening from the interior and drawn back at the moment of the transubstantiation to further guard against the possibi lity of the nuns being seen. Such a commitment to the viewing of the Eucharist was not surp rising, considering the patron of the church. As Bruzelius states, Qu een Sancia who intended to enter the convent upon the demise of her husband had a particular devotion to the Eucharist.88 The fact that the sisters could now view the Host is an in teresting development of its own, but the action of the priest is an additional point to consider. At this point in time, as the Euch aristic rite dictated, the priest would have had to put his back to the laity while he prepared the Host. In turn he would then be facing toward the sisters, which w ould place them in a position of honor.89 From the nuns point of view, the priest would then be presenting them with the Host, rather than the laity. The 85 Bruzelius, The Stones of Naples 145. 86 Bruzelius, Hearing is Believing, 87. 87 Ibid, 87. 88 Ibid., 89. 89 Ibid, 88.


79 placement of the choir thus moved them from a pos ition in which they could not take part in any of the service to one of honor, as they were presented with the most important element. This realization is particularly important considering the time in which the church was begun, in 1310; this is only twel ve years after th e papal law of Periculoso was implemented by Boniface VIII. So why was such thought was put in to the placement of the nuns choir in Santa Chiara? As already noted, the loca tion of Santa Maria Donna Regina was incredibly close to the Cathedral of Naples, which also would have been close to Santa Chiara. In addition, the role of Santa Chiara as a location for state ceremony w ould have meant even harsher demands for full adherence to the Periculoso mandate.90 By placing the nuns in a gall ery choir, as was done in Santa Maria Donna Regina, there would have be en a significant visual reminder of the nuns presence, simply by the low ceiling of the nave. However, by completely secluding the nuns of Santa Chiara in Naples behind the wall of the altar, the only way the la ity would have known of their presence would have through their singing of hymns as their voi ces filtered through the grates. Essentially, by moving the nuns choir behind th e altar, the church removed the visual reminder of their presence. However, by allowing th e sisters to be presented with the Eucharist, the church ensured that their act of piety wa s continuously honoredfor while their physical presence was erased, their devo tion was not. Not only would the nuns hymns have added to the mysterious and divine atmosphere of the cere mony, but the raising of the Host would have served as a reminder to the laity of the type of religious life to aspire to by pointing the Host toward the Poor Clares.91 Just as Clares tomb in Santa Chiara of Assisi served as a reminder of 90 Ibid., 87. 91 Ibid., 88.


80 the vow of enclosure that the si sters took, the Eucharistic rite of Santa Chiara of Naples would have accomplished a similar task. Both churches presented the laity with a grate that obscured the light of the nuns located behind it.


81 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION The churches that have been considered in the previous pages were created with the intention of providing worship spaces for bot h the public and the secluded nuns who dwelled there. Their creation dictated that particular features be included to facilitate their accessibility, as well as limitations. From the beginning, as seen in San Damiano, there was clearly a privileging of the Host as a primary image. Desp ite being unable to observe the Host during the Eucharist, the sisters were able to view it in several different locations and times within their confines. This additional viewing illustrates its importance as an object of veneration as well as an image, particularly in a space devoid of a ny other type of adornment. As the churches developed from the plan at San Damiano, im ages became more integral to the nuns contemplation of the Eucharist. While still unable to view the Ho st, the images provided a tool through which its presence could be visualized. After Clares death the focus on the Host di d not lessen but rather increased, causing further developments to allow the nuns access to it during the mass. Both Santa Chiara in Assisi and Santa Maria Donna Regina surrounded the nuns with scenes of th e Passion, emphasizing the sacrifice of Christ. The Meditations on the Life of Christ, written for the nuns, emphasized the Passion above all and provided multiple episodes of Marys witnessing of the suffering of her son to allow for a more affective response.1 It is clear that both th e nuns and Maria of Hungary were aware of this text and that it was used in determining which images were represented for them. These scenes would have been useful as di dactic tools for meditation and in order to focus the sisters understanding of the sacrifice of Christ, which was simultaneously represented through the Host. 1 Hoch, The Passion Cycle 133.


82 Concurrent with the images being viewed in the nuns choir, the laity was also experiencing images, but in a substantially different way. Rather than being surrounded by images of the Passion and the events leading up to Christs death, they were confronted with images foretelling his death and providing a cont ext for its importance. They were led by way of decorative cycles to the apse to witness the sacrifice of Christ as his body was raised in the form of the Host. Passion images were less important fo r the public because they were able to witness the perfect image of the passion when the Host was shown during the mass. Instead, the combination of architectural and artistic features served to highlight the apse and altar area, making it clear where the laity shoul d be directing their attention to view the image. The images of Santa Chiara of Assisi served to frame th e apse by drawing the narrative into the center toward the altar, where the climax of Christs story would take place. Santa Maria Donna Regina framed the altar with in tense light from the lancet windows li ning the apse, symbolically filling the space with the divine, while Biblical and ange lic figures guided the laitys attention to the altar. The presence of the Host and its importance within these two churches is clearly evident in the iconic representation that surrounded it. But it was in Santa Chiara of Naples that the role of the Host as the central image to both public and private was reconciled. By implementing the bifurcated floor plan, the church allowed the Host to take the most central role in the church: physically, by being placed directly between th e laity and the sisters, and symbolically, by bringing the two groups together by way of the body of Christ.2 While the churches maintained the separation dictated by both Clare and the Pope, the Franciscan goal of a connection to Christ 2 Bruzelius, Hearing is Believing 87.


83 as well as to the laity was achieved through th e combination of architectural means and the utilization of the Host as image.


84 APPENDIX LIST OF ART WORKS CITED 1. San Da miano Exterior Assisi, Italy. Accessed March 2008 2. Plan, San Damiano Assisi, Italy. (From W ood, Art, Women, and Spirituality, page 38.) 3. Cross Sections, San Damia no, Assisi, Italy. (From Wood, Art, Women, and Spirituality page 43.) 4. Nave, San Damiano, Assisi, Italy (From Wood, Art, Women, and Spirituality page 40.) 5. Anonymous, Talking Crucifix Santa Chiara, Assisi, late 12th century (From Wood, Art, Women, and Spirituality page 44.) 6. Santa Chiara of Assisi, Exterior Assisi, Italy. Accessed March 2008 7. Plan, Santa Chiara of Assi si, Assisi, Italy. (From Wood, Art, Women, and Spirituality page 50.) 8. Nave, Santa Chiara, A ssisi, Italy. (From Wood, Art, Women, and Spirituality page 47.) 9. Frescoes, Chapel of the Sacrament, Santa Chiara, Assisi, Italy. (From Wood, Art, Women, and Spirituality page 56.) 10. Frescoes, Chapel of the Sacrament, Santa Chiara, Assisi, Italy. (From Wood, Art, Women, and Spirituality, page 56.) 11. Anonymous (Santa Chiara Master), Santa Chiara Crucifix, Santa Chiara, Assisi, ca. 1260 1270. (From Wood, Art, Women, and Spirituality page 54.) 12. Anonymous, Saint Clare and the Madonna and Child, Detail of vault above the high altar in Santa Chiara, Assisi, 14th century. (From Wood, Art, Women, and Spirituality page 27.) 13. Section, ground plan, and diagram, Santa Maria Dona Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page xviii.) 14. Transverse and longitudinal section, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page xix.)


85 15. View of the nave from the apse, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 109.) 16. View of nuns choir from the nave, Sant a Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 107.) 17. View of the apse from the nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 109.) 18. Diagram of church frescoes, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page xx-xxi.) 19. Accension, from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 146.) 20. Pentecost, from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 147.) 21. Last Supper from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 131.) 22. Communion of the Apostles from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 132.) 23. Washing of the Feet from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria page 133.) 24. Agony in the Garden from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria page 134.) 25. Betrayal of Christ from the Passion Cycle, nuns c hoir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria page 135.) 26. Christ before the High Priests Annas and Caiaphias, the Denial of Saint Peter, Derision and Frist Stripping of Christ, Flagellation from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 131.) 27. Judgment of Christ before Pilate and Herod from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 136.) 28. Second Judgeent before Pilate, Crowning of Thorns, Second Stripping of Christ, Way to Calvery from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 137.)


86 29. Third Stripping of Christ, Christs Ascent to the Cross from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 139.) 30. Crucifixion from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 140.) 31. Deposition, Lamentation, and Burial from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 141.) 32. Noli me Tangere, Christ Appearing to Jose ph of Arimathea in Prision, and Christ Appearing to the Virgin Mary from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 143.) 33. Apparitions of Christ from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria page 144.) 34. Incredulity of Thomas, Christ A ppearing to his Disciples at Supper from the Passion Cycle, nuns choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria page 145.) 35. View of the apse from the choir, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 108.) 36. View of the north wall showing paired Prophets and Apostles and Angelic Choirs Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria, page 100.) 37. Angelic Choir, on the left side of the triumphal arch, Santa Maria Donna Regina, Naples, Italy. (From Elliott, Church of Santa Maria page 113.) 38. Plan, Santa Chiara, Naples Italy. (From Bruzelius, Stones of Naples page 135.) 39. View of nuns choir, Santa Chiara Naples, Italy. (From Bruzelius, Stones of Naples page 143.) 40. Nave, Santa Chiara, Naples Italy. (From Bruzelius, Stones of Naples page 132.) 41. Section, Santa Chiara, Naples Italy. (From Bruzelius, Stones of Naples page 135.)


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Em ily Pfeiffer was born and raised in Roch ester, New York where she graduated from Honeoye Falls Lima High School in 2001. She at tended Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York where she earned her Bachelor of Arts. Ms. Pfeiffer majored in Art History, focusing on the Italian Renaissance, and minored in the sacred in a cross cultural perspective. While at Hobart and William Smith, Pfeiffer contributed to the organization of two of the colleges exhibitions and interned with the Memorial Art Gallery of Rochester. She graduated cum laude in May 2005, receiving the Martha Mons er Justice Prize in Art History. Pfeiffer remained in Rochester working with the Memorial Art Gallerys Curatorial Department until her enrollment in the University of Floridas gr aduate program in art history in 2006. Working under the guidance of Professors Elizabeth Ross, Robert Westi n, and Paroma Chatterjee, she completed her masters degree in May 2008.