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Related Lives: Confessors and Their Female Penitents, 1450-1750 Hardcover – October 6, 2005


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"Jodi Bilinkoff has written a gem of a book: a fluent and succinct study of the relations between male confessors and women dedicated to spirituality in early modern Europe and the New World. . . . It would be the ideal introduction to a course devoted to a set of individual lives and a fine component for courses in gender history. . . . The book chronicles the evolution of a particular kind of pleasureful and rewarding friendship and collaboration, as an elaborate symbiosis develops between the spiritual women and the male confessor-scribe-promoters, who live through them and gain a kind of reflected fame and sanctity. . . . The book is valuable not only for its long view, but also for its geographical breadth, including much of the Catholic heartland in Europe (Spain, Italy, France, Portugal) as well as Spanish and French colonies in the New World."—William A. Christian Jr., Sixteenth Century Journal, 2007 (38:3)

"This study illuminates the rich and compelling nature of the dynamic between male confessors and their female penitents, thereby adding tremendous dimension to our understanding of Catholic devotion in this period."—Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt, Renaissance Quarterly

"Jodi Bilinkoff knows the rules of confession and its place in a complex and historically conditioned religious landscape. But with a critical eye and an informed empathy (and without romanticizing) she takes us beyond the routine and into the heart of deeply personal relationships. We are introduced to a special segment of the spiritual elites: doctors of souls with authorial ambitions and the exemplary women who inspired them. We learn how they found each other, and why it matters in many ways to historians. Our cultural stereotypes about Catholic Europe between 1450 and 1750 are subjected to a learned and thoroughly enjoyable revision by Bilinkoff's penetrating analysis of these related lives."—Thomas Tentler, University of Michigan

"Related Lives is marvelous, indispensable reading. With her fresh approach to the process of saint-making in early modern Spain, Jodi Bilinkoff sheds abundant light on the ways in which the pursuit of holiness and the pursuit of fame could intertwine, and on how female monastics and their male spiritual directors came to depend on one another. As she did in The Avila of Saint Teresa, Bilinkoff once again lays bare the very earthly social fabric of Spanish religiosity without losing sight of what mattered most to the individuals being studied."—Carlos M. N. Eire, Yale University

"Related Lives contributes to our understanding of early modern Catholicism by exploring the complex relationship between the priests who took on the role of confessor or spiritual director to pious women and their female penitents. Jodi Bilinkoff provides a comprehensive view of the actual practice of confession, the confessor-penitent relationship, and the exploitation of this relationship in the crafting of pious biographies for the edification of other early modern Catholics."—Barbara B. Diefendorf, Boston University

"In this lucid and elegant volume, Jodi Bilinkoff probes the depths of an uncommon friendship—the intensely personal ties forged by pious women and their confessors across the early-modern Catholic world. Related Lives is the absorbing account of how and why, amidst the strictures of Counter-Reformation society, many such relationships flourished, were molded into exemplary tales, and thus entered the bloodstream of a new religious culture."—Wietse de Boer, Miami University

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"Related Lives contributes to our understanding of early modern Catholicism by exploring the complex relationship between the priests who took on the role of confessor or spiritual director to pious women and their female penitents. Jodi Bilinkoff provides a comprehensive view of the actual practice of confession, the confessor-penitent relationship, and the exploitation of this relationship in the crafting of pious biographies for the edification of other early modern Catholics."—Barbara B. Diefendorf, Boston University

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