The Catholic University of America

 Geertruida de Moor Defense

Final Examination of Geertruida de Moor

For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 1:30 p.m., Caldwell Room 331


James A. Wiseman, O.S.B., S.T.D. 


Twee vrouwen van de Devotio Moderna. De geschriften en de invloed van Jacomijne Costers en Mechtild van Rieviren

In the 17th century Elisabeth Silvoorts (1607-1656) copied the writings of two fellow nuns, Jacomijne Costers (+ 1503) and Mechtild van Rieviren (+ 1497), of the Augustinian monastery Facons in Antwerp, a monastery that was part of the reform movement known as the Devotio Moderna. Since this movement is best known through its male representatives, such as Geert Grote and Thomas a Kempis, this dissertation examines the extent to which the spirituality of the Devotio Moderna is also found in Jacomijne and Mechtild’s writings, which are contained in a manuscript now preserved in Vienna.

The dissertation, written in Dutch, is divided into four chapters.  The first provides background information about the religious, social, and cultural context in the Low Countries in the late medieval period, along with historical information about the Facons monastery and biographical data about Jacomijne, Mechtild, their copyist, and several lesser figures.  The second chapter provides, in parallel columns, a transcription of the relevant parts of the manuscript, which was written in Middle Dutch, and a translation of these into Modern Dutch.  These parts are five in number:  a description of what Jacomijne experienced in a vision she had while lying sick from the bubonic plague, three treatises she wrote after her recovery (on the Blessed Sacrament, the three religious vows, and her patron saint, John the Evangelist), and Mechtild’s reflections on various spiritual topics.  The third chapter is a commentary on selected passages in the manuscript, in particular ones that are not readily understood without familiarity with some of the literary sources on which the nuns relied (such as works of medieval Dutch literature and the Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine), while the final chapter shows that in fact the spirituality of the two nuns quite closely reflected the spirituality of the Devotio Moderna that is found in its better-known male representatives.