The Pedagogical Ideals of Late Medieval Observant Dominican and Franciscan Nuns

Carolyn Muessig

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


The educational import of Observant female institutions in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries has been little studied. This article considers the pedagogical techniques of two nuns in order to demonstrate the depth and breadth of late medieval and early modern female learning. The two women under investigation are Franciscan Caterina Vigri (1413-1463) and the Dominican Tommasina Fieschi (c. 1448-1534). Both women taught in strictly enclosed convents where they played key roles as teachers. Their approach centred on the use of reading, liturgy and self-reflection as the formative core that shaped the intellectual and emotional lives of observant nuns. Caterina and Tommasina were also preachers who used sermons to capture the hearts and minds of their sisters. This article focuses particularly on these sermons. These women’s preaching and pedagogical ideals reveal that observant nunneries were thriving monastic centres of learning that preserved a long monastic tradition of contemplation that nurtured self-awareness through communal interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheologie und im Mittelalter
EditorsPeter Gemeinhardt , Tobias Georges
Place of PublicationMunster
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9783402102312
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameArcha Verbi: Yearbook for the Study of Medieval Theology

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Medieval Studies


  • education, domincan and franciscan nuns, female preaching, Caterina Vigri, Tommasina Fieschi


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