In the first volume of this major, three-part series, Mary T. Malone provided a comprehensive history of women in the first thousand years of the Western Christian tradition. In this second volume, she embarks on the equally compelling story of the next five hundred years. This pathbreaking trilogy shows how women have always enabled and enriched Christianity, and reveals the profound impact they continue to have on Christian life. Malone presents women in their own words, drawing as much as possible on their own writing. Combining theology and history, she engages the reader in a compelling narrative about innovative and courageous women responding to the ever-shifting circumstances of their time. In Volume 2, Mary Malone explores the fascinating period of the medieval world, from 1000 to 1500, a time of enormous complexity. On the one hand, the cathedrals and universities that endure in Europe reveal a quest for knowledge and beauty. On the other hand, the disastrous crusades against both infidel without, and heretic within, stain the history of Christian endeavour. This period saw other momentous events in Church history: the imposition of celibacy, the centralization of the papacy, and the definitive split with Eastern Christianity. The highlight of Volume 2 may be Malone’s portrait of the extraordinary outbreak of women’s mysticism in the 12th and 13th centuries as women seemed to take control of their own spiritual lives and invented their own forms of institutional living for the furtherance of this new spirituality.
Mary T. Malone is a former Professor of Theology at Toronto School of Theology; and was previously Professor of Religious Studies at St Jerome’s University and the University of Waterloo. She is the author of several books, including: Woman Christian: A New Vision, Who is My Mother? Rediscovering the Mother of Jesus and Step by Step: A Handbook for RCIA.