Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy

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Oxford University Press, 1986 - History - 214 pages
The discovery of the fascinating and richly documented story of Sister Benedetta Carlini, Abbess of the Convent of the Mother of God, by Judith C. Brown was an event of major historical importance. Not only is the story revealed in Immodest Acts that of the rise and fall of a powerful woman in a church community and a record of the life of a religious visionary, it is also the earliest documentation of lesbianism in modern Western history.
Born of well-to-do parents, Benedetta Carlini entered the convent at the age of nine. At twenty-three, she began to have visions of both a religious and erotic nature. Benedetta was elected abbess due largely to these visions, but later aroused suspicions by claiming to have had supernatural contacts with Christ. During the course of an investigation, church authorities not only found that she had faked her visions and stigmata, but uncovered evidence of a lesbian affair with another nun, Bartolomeo. The story of the relationship between the two nuns and of Benedetta's fall from an abbess to an outcast is revealed in surprisingly candid archival documents and retold here with a fine sense of drama.

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User Review  - Auntie-Nanuuq - LibraryThing

Sister Benedetta Carlini, Abbess of the Theatines was a visionary who suffered from stigmata: or did she..... We really do not know until the end of the book, where we read of the investigations into ... Read full review

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User Review  - kant1066 - LibraryThing

In the year 1600, at the tender age of nine, Benedetta Carlini was sent to a nunnery in the small city of Pescia in north-central Italy. What today might be considered cruel and highly unusual was ... Read full review

About the author (1986)

Judith C. Brown is at Stanford University.

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