Frank Henderson's Page on Liturgy and Medieval Women

Medieval Religious Rules for Women

Medieval Religious Rules for Women

Medieval Benedictine nuns sometimes used versions of the Rule of St. Benedict, in Latin or vernacular languages, that were feminine in grammatical gender or which used gender-balanced or gender-neutral language. Others used versions that were in the vernacular, but masculine in grammatical gender.

I and others are studying such feminine versions in Latin, Middle English, Middle High German and early modern High German, Old French and medieval Catalan. I am "editor" of a Web site on this topic. Space and technical expertise are kindly contributed by St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota and the Order of St. Benedict. Two additional feminine versions are being prepared for posting on this site: The Winteney Old English Version, and the Northern Metrical Middle English Version.

I have also prepared two bibliographies, on feminine versions and on masculine vernacular versions of the Rule of St Benedict.

Communities of medieval women other than Benedictine nuns might use a variety of rules other than the Rule of St. Benedict, as well as related legislative documents known as constitutions, statutes, ordinances, and customaries. I have prepared a bibliography of editions and translations of these documents, covering as wide a range of religious communities as possible.

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