Early modern nuns were supposed to be cloistered and live in the centres of towns according to decrees passed by the Council of Trent in 1563. By contrast, the cover image chosen by Sarah Owens directly challenges this view and represents the lives of these five Capuchin nuns. It is a French painting of St Clare with her sister Agnes and three other nuns, their hands clasped in prayer, shown against the background of mountains with a convent and a procession on the other side of a wide river flowing behind them. It already jolts our expectations of where women religious should be praying and places them in a world they should have left behind when they joined the convent. If they went on journeys at all, they should be spiritual journeys to be followed through texts which might take them on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and other holy places. Yet nuns were to be allowed by the authorities to leave the enclosure to establish new houses and these nuns travelled from Madrid to Lima: a journey which took them three years ending with the foundation of a new convent in Lima, Peru in 1713. The five Capuchin nuns
Church History and Religious Culture (formerly Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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