Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549), queen of the country of Navarre and sister to the king of France, wrote a literary anthology, the Heptameron, which contains numerous stories about priests who abused their office to sexually violate or harass women. In the Heptameron, Marguerite warns laypeople to be cautious in their dealings with priests, and she encourages noble people to use their influence to protect victims.
Schroeder explores the role of friendship in the life of Flemish Cistercian nun Beatrice of Nazareth (1200-1268). Friendship was a source of spiritual support and encouragement in monastic settings. Spiritual friends would also pray for one another to have visionary experiences on predetermined feast days, creating a climate of expectation surrounding church festivals.
Unlike patristic and medieval commentators who harshly condemned Jacob‘s daughter Dinah (Genesis 34) for her own rape, Martin Luther interprets the story from the perspective of a loving father who is saddened by the grave injury done to his young daughter.
In contrast to other church fathers who tolerated wife-beating and encouraged women to remain in abusive marriages, John Chrysostom argued that a man should not use physical violence against his wife for any reason whatsoever.
Schroeder shows how Hildegard‘s theological writings about the Holy Spirit were well-integrated with her scientific theories about the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) and medieval thoughts about the bodily “humors.” The Holy Spirit is described as having—and providing to faithful Christians—the propitious qualities associated with the right combination of air, fire, and water.
Italian Franciscan tertiary Angela of Foligno (c. 1248-1309) reported several visionary experiences on the February 2 Feast of the Purification. Schroeder argues that Angela used the story of Virgin Mary‘s presentation of her child Jesus in the temple as a metaphor for Angela‘s offering of herself and her spiritual sons (Franciscan priests) to the deity.
Examining the writings of two medieval German women and a nineteenth-century African-American Shaker preacher, Schroeder explores women‘s use of the biblical figure of Wisdom to authorize female writing and preaching.
In their treatment of the horrific story of the rape of the Levite’s concubine by the men of Gibeah, Reformation-era commentators said that the “natural” rape of the woman was preferable to the “unnatural” rape of her husband, who had been threatened by the townsmen. Several Protestant writers claimed that her gang rape and death was divinely ordained justice for adultery against her husband.