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Agnes Blannbekin, Viennese Beguine: Life and Revelations

Ulrike Wiethaus

Female mysticism, usually nourished in contemplative surroundings, in Blannbekin’s case drew its inspiration from urban life; Weidhaus identifies her visions as ‘street mysticism’.This early example of a spiritual diary incorporating the visions of a female mystic offers a glimpse of religious women’s daily life and spiritual practices. Agnes Blannbekin was from an Austrian farming family, but as a Beguine lived an urban life: Ulrike Weithaus refers to her experiences as ‘street mysticism’. Blannbekin’s spiritual life revolved around the liturgical cycles of the church year, but also embraced the opportunities and vagaries of city life. Her visions comment on memorable events such as a popular bishop’s visit to town during which people were trampled to death; the consequences of a rape committed by a priest; thefts of the Eucharist and the work of witches. Christ, for Blannbekin, is not only bridegroom, but also shopkeeper, apothecary, and axe-wielding soldier, and it was her vision of swallowing Christ’s foreskin which led to the eventual censorship of her works. Life and Revelations has only recently been rediscovered by Austrian scholar Peter Dinzelbacher, and this translation is based on his critical edition.

Keywords: Library of Medieval WomenMedieval LiteratureWomen’s & Gender Studies

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