"For the salvation of this girls soul”: Nuns as converters of jews in early modern Italy

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This article argues that converting Jewish girls and women constituted an important expression of Italian nuns’ religiosity throughout the age of Catholic Reform. Unlike their male counterparts, however, converting nuns rarely left behind accounts of their conversionary efforts. Moreover, since these endeavors were directed exclusively at female Jews they are often obscured in the historical record and in modern historiography. The article tackles the difficulties of recovering the voices of converting nuns and presents examples that suggest how they could be circumvented. Exploring the potential of drawing on previously understudied texts, such as nuns’ supplications, the article calls for the integration of this specific manifestation of female devotion into the scholarship and teaching on women’s religious life in the early modern era.

Original languageEnglish
Article number252
Issue number11
StatePublished - 22 Nov 2017


  • Convent education
  • Conversion
  • Council of Trent
  • EarlyModern Italy
  • Forced baptism
  • Houses of Catechumens
  • Jewish-Christian relations
  • Monastic enclosure
  • Nuns
  • Tridentine reforms

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies


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