Book Series Disciplina Monastica, vol. 6

'The Devout Belief of the Imagination'

The Paris 'Meditationes Vitae Christi' and Female Franciscan Spirituality in Trecento Italy

Holly Flora

  • Pages: 305 p.
  • Size:210 x 270 mm
  • Illustrations:5 b/w, 94 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2009

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-52819-9
  • Paperback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56660-3
  • E-book
  • Available


"This well-researched and well-written monograph asks new and interesting questions of familiar material."

(Katherine L. Jansen, in The Medieval Review, 10.06.29)

"Generously illustrated throughout, with numerous color plates, The Devout Belief of the Imagination is a valuable resource for scholars of late-medieval Italian art and spirituality."

(Anne Derbes, in Speculum, 86/2, April 2011, p. 490)

"L'ouvrage d'Holly Flora, c'est tout d'abord un beau livre d'art, richement illustré, à la typographie élégante et soignée qui, par son format, évoque un catalogue d'exposition. C'est ensuite une remarquable étude iconologique conduite avec rigueur et minutie qui fera date parmi les travaux consacrés à l'iconographie franciscaine, tant par la qualité de la réflexion et les perspectives proposées que par l'originalité du point de vue adopté."

(Fabien Guilloux, dans Archivum Franciscanum Historicum, 104, 2011, p. 316-317)


This volume examines the late medieval devotional text Meditationes Vitae Christi through an analysis of its most important manuscript, known by its present location and catalogue number as Paris Bibliothèque Nationale Ms. ital. 115.  As Flora argues, Ms. ital. 115, the oldest and most extensively illustrated copy of the Meditationes, was originally made in or near Pisa circa 1350 and tailored very specifically for a group of Franciscan nuns.  Flora proposes the manuscript’s probable uses in practices of performative devotion and affective response, and the relationship between its imagery and other works of art made for religious women, shedding new light on the history of female monasticism in medieval Italy.


Holly Flora is Assistant Professor of Art History at Tulane University, and is the author of Cimabue and Early Italian Devotional Painting (The Frick Collection, 2006) as well as studies on illustrated manuscripts and devotional art in late medieval Italy.


Winner of the ICMA-Samuel H. Kress Research Award 2009