First Advisor

John Ott

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors




Thomas de Cantimpré (approximately 1200-approximately 1270) -- Criticism and interpretation, Hagiography, Fasting -- Religious aspects -- Christianity, Christian women saints -- History -- Early works to 1800, Women mystics -- History -- Early works to 1800




Food and fasting were central themes in the vitae of women mystics in the middle ages. However, second parties, primarily male hagiographers, recorded most of the written works about these women’s lives and spiritual experiences. Thus the question of authorship and influence arises in discerning what arose from the women themselves as opposed to their writers. In this paper I analyze the women’s vitae of one writer, Thomas of Cantimpré, from the 13th century to find what a comparison of the texts reveal about the subjects and the author’s motivations in telling their lives. Though food and fasting features extremely differently in the lives of each Saint revealing individual forms of experience within the common theme, the author’s concerns over heretical suspicion and guiding his flock on the orthodox path of religion are clearly drawn out in each.


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