By Tess Knighton
On Friday 3 October 2014 Ascensión and I attended the I Jornada d’estudis d’espiritualitat i monasticisme a l’Edat Mitjana held at the beautiful Reial Monestir de Santa María de Pedralbes on the outskirts of Barcelona. An excellent series of events of different kinds, including conferences, exhibitions and concerts are organized at the Monastery by its director Anna Castellano. Two items of great interest for anyone working in the field of monasticism, spirituality and culture were presented at the first Jornada: a paper by Eva Schotheuber (University of Düsseldorf) given in English and entitled ‘Letters from the cloister: intellectual horizons and daily life of Benedictine nuns in North Germany’. This fascinating correspondence, copied between 1462 and 1535 by the nuns of the Benedictine convent of Lüne near Hamburg, reveals much about the nuns’ education, and their levels of literacy. Written in a mix of elegant Latin and Low German, the letters afford a glimpse not only into the importance placed on education but many other aspects of their daily lives, including their attention to detail in the celebration of the liturgy. Such a rich resource made for a very interesting paper. The second part of the meeting focused on the recent monographic issue of the Anuario de Estudios Medievales (44/1, 2014) dedicated to ‘Espais de l’espiritualitat femenina a l’Europa medieval. Una mirada interdisciplinaria’, with brief presentations by Roser Salicrú (Institució Milà i Fontanals-CSIC), editor of the journal, the researcher Rebeca Sanmartín Bastia (Universidad Complutense, Madrid), and Blanca Garí (Universitat de Barcelona), coordinator of the issue, and also Director of the research project Claustra. This volume will certainly afford new insights into a subject area which, as was acknowledged by Blanca Garí, is very much ‘in fashion’ at present (TK 5 October 2014).