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Early Women Writers

Saint Angela of Foligno



Saint Angela of Foligno


Foligno, Umbria, Italy


1248 – 1309


Saint Angela of Foligno was an Italian Franciscan tertiary who became known as a mystic from her extensive writings about her mystical revelations. Due to the respect those writings engendered in the Catholic Church she became known as "Mistress of Theologians". Angela was noted not only for her spiritual writings, but also for founding a religious community which is still active and carries on her vision of caring for those in need. The Catholic Church declared Angela to be a saint in 2013.
She married young, as was usual, and had several children who died shortly after her conversion and decision to live a life of poverty in imitation of Christ. She found peace by repenting her past and giving up worldliness. Angela of Foligno declared herself so enrapt in love for God, that if someone even spoke to her of God she would cry out. Her reaction to artistic renderings of Christ was almost violent.

Most likely Angela received no formal education. Capable of reading but unable to write, she dictated her vision in her Umbrian dialect to her relative, confessor, and scribe, the Franciscan Brother Arnaldo, who wrote it down and translated her words into Latin. In it she narrates her dramatic conversion and the steps or transformations her soul makes as it advances closer to God, as well as her mystical experiences and her passion for Christ. The original transcription of Angela's experiences is lost, and the reconstruction of the critical text has been most difficult. Angela of Foligno contributed greatly to the development of Western mysticism because of her influence on later.

Angela of Foligno was revered as a woman of exceptional piety; her emphasis on true humility and the importance of prayer made her a spiritual inspiration. As revealed in her later writings, Angela considered herself self-indulgent and fun-loving as a wife and mother. She enjoyed life and was as kind and generous as her wealthy social position allowed her to be. Though at times she became fearful about her salvation, she did not have the courage to alter her lifestyle. Believing poverty to be the basis for virtue and wisdom, Angela then sold all her property. She regularly went to visit the poor and the ill to bring comfort to the less fortunate. She also worked in hospitals, washing lepers and consoling the patients.


Book of Visions and Instructions;Liber; Memoirale;
Divine Consolations of the Blessed Angela of Foligno.


Umbrian Dialect; Italian


Devotional, Mystical, Visions

Editions and Translations

Ludger Thier and Abele Calufetti, eds, Il libro della Beata Angela da Foligno, (Rome: Editiones Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 1985); Angela of Foligno, Complete works, translated, with an introduction by Paul Lachance; preface by Romana Guarnieri, (New York: Paulist Press, 1993)


A Mystic's Drama: The Paschal Mystery in the Visions of Angela da Foligno
Author(s): Molly Morrison, Source: Italica, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Spring, 2001), pp. 36-52, Published by: American Association of Teachers of Italian;"
Art and Moral Vision in Angela of Foligno and Margery Kempe Author(s): Kathleen Kamerick Source: Mystics Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 4 (December 1995), pp. 148-158 Published by: Penn State University Press;
Women of the Streets : Early Franciscan Women and their Mendicant Vocation. Darleen Pryds. 2010, Published by: Franciscan Institute Publications;
Angela da Foligno's "Memoriale": The Male Scribe, the Female Voice, and the Other, Author(s): Dino S. Cervigni, Source: Italica, Vol. 82, No. 3/4 (Autumn - Winter, 2005), pp. 339-355, Published by: American Association of Teachers of Italian;
Angela of Foligno's Memorial By Angela (of Foligno), Angela of Foligno, Cristina Mazzoni;
Re-Reading a Mis-known and Mis-read Mystic: Angela da Foligno Author(s): Tiziana Arcangeli Source: Annali d'Italianistica, Vol. 13, Women Mystic Writers (1995), pp. 41-78 Published by: Arizona State University;
Echoes and Inscriptions: Comparative Approaches to Early Modern Spanish edited by Barbara Simerka, Christopher B. Weimer;
Morrison, M. (2003). Ingesting Bodily Filth: Defilement in the Spirituality of Angela of Foligno. Romance Quarterly, 50(3), 204–216.

Archival Holdings

Liber: MS. Laud Lat. 46, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, UK; Compendium of documents and revelations. Angela of Foligno (Assisi Codex): Assisi Com.342, Library and Franciscan Documentation Center of the Sacred Convent, Assisi, Italy; Compendium of documents and revelations. Angela of Foligno (Assisi Codex): Assisi Com.342, Library and Franciscan Documentation Center of the Sacred Convent, Assisi, Italy.

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