Abstract

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, four spiritual biographers wrote the “life” of the recently deceased lay dévote Madeleine de Lamoignon (1609–87). These authors sought to compose spiritual biographies—accounts of Madeleine's devotional life—all penned with the distant prospect of beatification or canonization in mind. This article analyzes these four retellings of Madeleine's life to excavate the process of writing vitae and situates this process within the broader context of lay spiritual biography in early modern France. A comparative exploration of Lamoignon's “lives” reveals different, and sometimes competing, conceptions of lay female sanctity in the Counter-Reformation era. By attending to neglected biographies of early modern laywomen, scholars might better understand how a life outside the cloister could be reconciled with saintliness.

Entre la fin du dix-septième et le début du dix-huitième siècle, quatre écrivains ont écrit la « vie » de la dévote laïque, Madeleine de Lamoignon (1609–87). Chacun de ces auteurs cherchait à composer une biographie spirituelle—un récit de la vie dévotionnelle de Madeleine—et celles-ci ont toutes été écrites en vue de sa béatification ou de sa canonisation. Cet article est une étude comparative des quatre versions de la vie de Madeleine qui examine le processus d'écrire une « vie ». L'article montre que les biographies spirituelles étaient souvent des textes collaboratifs.

In the early 1690s, in the convent of the Visitation de Sainte-Marie in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Jacques, a nun named Anne-Elisabeth de Lamoignon (1654–1734) began to write the life of her recently deceased aunt, Madeleine de Lamoignon (1609–87).1 Madeleine was part of the second generation of devout Parisian laywomen, known as dévotes (the devout), who helped drive the spiritual revival associated with the French Counter-Reformation. In the early seventeenth century, Madeleine made a resolution to devote her life to serving the poor but outside the constraints of marriage. She became one of the most committed members of Louise de Marillac (1591–1660) and Vincent de Paul's (1581–1660) confraternity, the Ladies of Charity (Dames de la Charité), for whom her mother had served as president between 1643 and 1651.2 The Ladies of Charity provided financial and political support for the charitable works of the now well-studied Daughters of Charity (Filles de la Charité), established by Paul and Marillac in 1633.3 Madeleine played a pivotal role in the provision of charity and social welfare in early modern Paris after she opened a clothing and food bank for the poor at her own home.

Shortly after Madeleine's death, her niece set out to write a biography that would capture the benevolence of her aunt; this was to be a spiritual biography, a relation of a devotional life. The spiritual biography was, in early modern Europe, a flourishing form of religious literature, and France contributed prolifically to the genre.4 Lives (vitae) were circulated in manuscript form within convents and among circles of pious readers and were increasingly disseminated more widely via the printing press. Spiritual biographies were, of course, close cousins of saints' lives and were typically hagiographical in tone. They were, as Eric Suire has revealed, often used as evidence in canonization proceedings for the creation of official saints.5 Yet lives were also penned about those who never received recognition: unofficial saints, as well as failed saints, or “losers,” as one scholar has put it.6 Nuns were dynamic contributors to the feminine spiritual biography in France, as the recent work of Jacques Le Brun has illuminated. According to Le Brun, biographies produced within female religious houses number well into the thousands.7 The spiritual biographies of laywomen such as Madeleine de Lamoignon do not survive in such copious numbers, but their study helps reveal more complex textual genealogies than convent records might suggest.8

Madeleine de Lamoignon was the subject of four surviving unpublished spiritual biographies, whose diversity permits the process of writing vitae to be excavated. The first part of this article establishes the different authorial voices in the lives of Madeleine de Lamoignon and considers how their interventions were layered over time. The manuscripts also allow us to gauge how her biographers sought to reconcile Madeleine's lay status with their own conceptions of feminine saintliness. The second strand of the article examines the editing strategies adopted by each of Madeleine's biographers, including those of her niece (a religious at the Filles de la Visitation de Sainte-Marie), in the reproduction of her personal autobiographical writings. The status, gender, and positioning of the biographers, it is argued, produced four distinct accounts that each accentuated and downplayed different elements of Madeleine's life. This analysis of the authors and their approaches to writing a life is developed in the final portion of the article, which considers their respective treatments of Madeleine's “holy death.”

Ultimately, this article contends that each of Madeleine's biographers was grappling with her position as a laywoman in the world who had pursued spiritual perfection outside the cloister and marriage. This reconstruction of the collaborative and fluid nature of Madeleine de Lamoignon's spiritual biography reveals a number of competing conceptions of lay female sanctity in the long Counter-Reformation. Madeleine was cast variously by her biographers as a charitable patron, mystical writer, submissive penitent, and saintly protégé of Teresa of Ávila.

Excavating the Writing Process

Historians of female dévotes in Counter-Reformation Paris have been aware of at least one extant spiritual biography of Madeleine de Lamoignon. This life spans 161 folios and was penned by an anonymous Jesuit author.9 Its dedicatory preface and Latin subtitle suggest that it was probably a presentation copy of the life for manuscript circulation.10 Barbara Diefendorf made use of this particular document to prove the scope of Madeleine's charitable work in seventeenth-century Paris:11

Using tropes common to saints' lives, Madeleine's biographer depicts her as heroically embracing a difficult path, one that would set her at odds with social conventions and potentially even endanger her family's good name. Clearly, he intended her life to inspire admiration rather than direct imitation. And yet the very fact that a cleric could write admiringly of Madeleine de Lamoignon's vocation, praising both her private efforts to assist the poor and her more public role raising funds for war relief and the Dames' other charitable causes, underscores the legitimacy that a life of determined Christian service had acquired by the second half of the seventeenth century.12

Representing the life of an unmarried laywoman as a sanctifying spiritual path certainly was dangerous territory for a male spiritual biographer. Even if many women in early modern Europe did choose the “unofficial third vocation” as devout laywomen in the liminal space between convent and the world, spiritual biographers had to handle their abjuration of religious vows extremely sensitively.13

Mirroring broader patterns elsewhere in Europe during this period, in France a number of such biographies were published by spiritual directors about their lay female penitents.14 It might be tempting to assume, then, that the anonymous Jesuit who seemingly attempted to legitimize Madeleine's spiritual path was the spiritual director who oversaw the final years of her life: the Père Dubois. Dubois was a Jesuit who attended to Madeleine at her death bed, along with Louis Bourdaloue (1632–1704). A comparison of the anonymized presentation manuscript with a second extant life in the Lamoignon private archives reveals, however, that Dubois was not Madeleine's biographer.15 This second manuscript is in the same hand as the anonymous life but replete with corrections and additions and appears to have been an earlier draft. The title page of this version of the biography attributes authorship to the “révérend père d'Orléans.” No further details about the biographer are given here, but a third extant copy of the same text reveals his identity to be Pierre-Joseph d'Orléans (1641–98).16 Orléans was a Jesuit historian and author of a number of other (mostly Jesuit) vitae including the life of Pierre Coton (1564–1626), Louis XIII's confessor.17

As well as uncovering the authorship of the anonymous biography, the Lamoignon family archive also contains two lives of Madeleine by female biographers that predate that of the Jesuit. From these documents, it is possible to conclude that the seemingly definitive Jesuit-authored life of Madeleine de Lamoignon had a more convoluted genealogy as a bricolage of earlier lives by women Madeleine had encountered, and inspired, as a Lady of Charity. The first female biographer that the Jesuit author borrowed from is difficult to identify. A note on the manuscript identifies her simply as “Madame Teste.”18 Madeleine had worked with one “Mademoiselle Teste” in the confraternity of the Ladies of Charity.19 It is impossible to be certain if this is the very same Teste, but it is not inconceivable. The lives of “third status” (il terzo stato) women represented a substantial subgenre of lay female spiritual biography in France, and we know fellow laywomen wrote some.20 Furthermore, we learn from the preface that this biographer was responding to the recent printing of a spiritual biography of Vincent de Paul.21 Madame Teste had read this biography and discovered references to the virtues of one of Paul's most steadfast Ladies of Charity, Madeleine's mother, Marie Deslandes, which had motivated her to write Madeleine's life. The fact that this biographer was someone close to Paul might point to her identity as a fellow Lady of Charity.22

The second female biographer who wrote Madeleine's life is more easily identifiable as Sister Anne-Elisabeth de Lamoignon, the Visitandine niece of Madeleine de Lamoignon with whom this article started.23 The nun, who later became superior of the second Visitation convent in Paris, made references to an existing life by “Madame Teste” throughout her composition and was rather frank about its deficiencies.24 The manuscript is attributed to the single authorship of Sister Anne-Elisabeth and contains only one hand, but it also shows signs of being the product of a more collective enterprise—as was often the case with convent writing.25 Although the Jesuit biographer appears to have had access to both Teste's and Sister Anne-Elisabeth's versions of Madeleine's life, it is clear that the Visitandine version was the real blueprint for his later redaction.

Significantly, however, Madeleine's Visitandine niece did not envisage even the Jesuit's edition of Madeleine's life as the final, definitive biography. It is possible to trace the nun's efforts to procure a fourth biographer in the early years of the eighteenth century. In 1703 Sister Anne-Elisabeth, along with some of her fellow Visitandine sisters, corresponded with Jacques Marsollier (1647–1724) about the production of another life. Marsollier was a canon regular from the abbey of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris and later prebendary of Uzès Cathedral. Anne-Elisabeth wrote to Marsollier on February 8, 1703, expressing her enthusiasm for the project: “We are eagerly awaiting the work which is the product of your quill and your kindness for our family.”26 She also highlighted the place of her aunt in the recent biography of Vincent de Paul: “Look here, monsieur, in the life of Monsieur Vincent where you will find my late dear aunt in many places.”27 In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries there was renewed interest in the life of Paul because of a new beatification case, which may have, at least in part, also motivated the writing of Madeleine's biography.28 In addition, as ecclesiastical superior to the two Parisian Visitation houses, Paul had an affiliation with the convent where Madeleine's niece was writing.

In this milieu, another Visitandine nun, Marie de Chandenier, also wrote to Marsollier with a similar supplication.29 She described Madeleine's biography as “the work they preferred above all others,” and she asked God to bless Marsollier for this “holy enterprise.”30 The authorial reputation of Marsollier is crucial for clarifying the motives of the Visitandine nuns. He was known as a theologian but also as a historian and hagiographer who had authored several published vitae. These included a biography of Armand-Jean Le Bouthillier, the abbot of Rancé (1626–1700), and notably, biographies of the recently canonized (1665) François de Sales (1567–1622) and Jeanne de Chantal (1572–1641).31 Marsollier did indeed take up the task of writing Madeleine's spiritual biography in 1703 and penned another version of her life, which is extant in manuscript. This definitive version of the biography was divided into three “books” following a loose chronological thread.32 It too was never published but quite probably enjoyed circulation and readership in manuscript.

A final stage to the project, in autumn 1703, involved a fifth contributor. In October that year, Marsollier was supplied with piecemeal texts to help with the construction of the life. Among these were the memoirs of Chrétien-François de Lamoignon (1644–1709), who was Madeleine's nephew and brother of Sister Anne-Elisabeth.33 His original memoirs survive in the family private archives alongside a letter from Marsollier to Anne-Elisabeth. Marsollier's correspondence uncovers this final stage in the writing of the biography by revealing that Madeleine's nephew was sourcing histories of “what had happened in France since the birth of Mademoiselle de Lamoignon up to the marriage of the King,” alongside accounts of events “in Poland on the occasion of the Swedish War” and, finally, “in England on the subject of the death of Charles I.”34 Marsollier repaid his efforts by affording Chrétien-François a larger place in his aunt's life than previous biographers had, as well as using his historical research to flesh out the chronological narrative.35 Marsollier was nonetheless attentive to Madeleine's saintly virtues. He assured Anne-Elisabeth in his letter that he would aim to convey the extraordinary piety of her “incomparable aunt” and that he felt “edified” by what he had learned about the “eminent piety” of her “illustrious ancestor” and “holy aunt” from her brother.36 As Madeleine's final biographer, Marsollier had a selection of sources available to him and drew on material from Vincent de Paul's correspondence, too.37 Significantly, Marsollier also accessed material from many of the earlier biographies of Madeleine; Marsollier's text was thus also a patchwork of material gleaned from the lives already at his disposal.38

The surviving correspondence does not reveal precisely why the Lamoignon family was pursuing another edition of Madeleine's biography in 1703, but it is possible to suggest some tentative explanations. First, Pierre-Joseph d'Orléans's death in 1698 might have prompted the nuns to seek another credible (male?) author to collate the writings, edit the life further, and get it published. Another possibility is that the family was dissatisfied with the biography the Jesuit produced. The Lamoignons wanted a biography that brought out more strongly those aspects of Madeleine's interiority that had been obscured by a focus on her better-known charitable work. Marsollier would be marginally more successful than the Jesuit in foregrounding this.

The Product of a Counter-Reformation Family

It was commonplace in this period for nuns to write the lives of their foundresses and fellow sisters but less typical for them to extend their gaze over the convent wall and write the lives of laywomen, even if they were family members.39 To comprehend the enthusiasm of the Lamoignon nuns for writing the spiritual biography of their aunt, we must first situate the production of the life within the broader context of the family's place in the Parisian Counter-Reformation. It then becomes clear that the writing of Madeleine's life served a key set of overlapping familial and diplomatic interests. The Lamoignons were an ambitious family from the robe nobility who made a significant contribution to French spiritual renewal in the capital.40 Madeleine was the daughter of Marie Deslandes (1576–1651) and Chrétien de Lamoignon (d. 1636), born into a judicial family. Her father was president of the highest court in France in this period, the Parlement of Paris. He was also an important patron of some of Paris's newest religious foundations, including the two convents of the Visitation. The first Visitation house, situated on the Rue Saint-Antoine on the right bank, was constructed by the architect François Mansart (1598–1666), and its church now survives as the Temple du Marais. Its sister house was established in 1623 on the Rue Saint-Jacques in the Left Bank and became the convent of choice for many of the Lamoignon women. Madeleine's sibling, Elisabeth de Lamoignon (1608–58), took vows there and became known in religion as Marie-Elisabeth.41 Madeleine's eldest sister had an equally pious reputation; Anne de Lamoignon (1605–63) married and remained in the world as a benevolent lay dévote.

The piety of the Lamoignon family was celebrated by their devout brother, Guillaume de Lamoignon (1617–77), who had a prominent, public role in providing charitable medical care in the seventeenth century. He was a leading member of the boards of the Paris Hôtel-Dieu, which had been caring for the sick poor since the seventh century, as well as the Hôpital Général established in 1656. In addition to his dedication to these institutions, Guillaume was acutely conscious of, and deeply committed to, his family's spiritual legacy.42 In one letter apparently composed during the last months of his life on October 20, 1677, and sent to his daughters at the Visitandine house, Guillaume wrote that the Lamoignon family was united “eternally” by affection and in God's love.43 This was something he felt was best captured by scripture in Joshua 24:15, which he quoted to his daughters in Latin: “Ego autem et domus mea serviemus Domino” (But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord).44 Elsewhere, his surviving correspondence with his Visitandine daughters between 1666 and 1676 reveals his investment in their devotional progress, particularly during their novitiate in the convent.45 Guillaume imagined that his daughters were committing themselves to religious vows in the name of their family as “satisfaction” for their sins, particularly for his.46 The lengths to which the Lamoignon family went to produce a biography of their dévote aunt Madeleine were clearly a product of this broader socioreligious context. For a family with such a standing, spiritual biographies were not only a way to pursue a cause for formal recognition of sanctity from the Church but also a means of recording the spiritual legacy of the dynasty for posterity. This supports an observation that Timothy J. McHugh made on this broader sociopolitical context when he argued that the involvement of families from the robe nobility in Counter-Reformation charitable projects such as those at the Parisian Hôtel-Dieu was one expression of their dynastic ambitions.47

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the Lamoignon family was deeply invested in the production and consumption of vitae. Among the male members of the Lamoignon, Chrétien-François supplied Marsollier with chronicles for the life of his aunt, as mentioned above. A set of memoirs also survive about Madeleine's pious brother, Guillaume.48 The Lamoignon women, in particular, seem to have been the subject of vitae that were circulated in manuscript form. Madeleine's older sister, Anne de Lamoignon, was the subject of a biography composed in 1663 by a family friend and fellow charitable dévote, Marie de Miramion (1629–96). One extant copy of the biography was initially donated to the sisters at the Franciscan Third Order monastery of the Conception de Notre-Dame in Paris, where a daughter of Anne de Lamoignon, named Olive, had taken vows.49 A second copy of the biography is extant in the Lamoignon family private archives and was probably produced by Madeleine's Visitandine niece Anne-Elisabeth.50 She had, at the very least, perused this copy, because she cited it in the opening passages of her own life of Madeleine, stating that “the religious of the Conception have a very edifying synopsis of her [Anne's] life.”51 The spiritual biography of her other aunt, it seems, stimulated Anne-Elisabeth and may have been the original template for the writing of Madeleine's life. The Lamoignons were thus using biographies to record the contributions their devout family members were making to the Parisian Counter-Reformation. The fact that the textual inspiration for Madeleine's life seems to have been a biography of her sister indicates that lay-authored biographies were being read in manuscript form within small familial and pious networks.52

When the production of Madeleine's biography is contextualized in this way, it also becomes less surprising that the project came to fruition within a Visitation convent. The Filles de la Visitation de Sainte-Marie (the Visitandines) was a new order established by François de Sales and his own penitent Jeanne de Chantal at Annecy in 1610. It was initially instituted as an active uncloistered community, but in 1618 Rome enforced claustration.53 The order became a testament to the successes of the Counter-Reformation, as 149 houses were founded in the seventeenth century alone and filled mostly with sisters from the nobility and upper bourgeoisie.54 In France the Visitandines were also active contributors to the genre of spiritual biography, particularly through their lettres circulaires or obituaries, which were written about deceased sisters and disseminated within the order.55 At first glance, the Visitandines' motivations for writing the life of a laywoman—beyond their obvious familial connections to her—are not necessarily apparent. Yet if we contextualize this within the broader place of the Visitation order in seventeenth-century French (and particularly Parisian) female devotional culture, their motivations become clearer. From their enclosure in 1618, Visitation convents became retreats for young and married laywomen, as well as widows. As Barbara Diefendorf has explained, “François de Sales willingly gave up the right for nuns to exit the cloister in order to maintain the right of laywomen to enter, so highly did he value the lessons in piety he thought they might thereby learn.”56 Central to the Visitandine vocation was, then, interaction with laywomen such as Madeleine de Lamoignon who sought refuge or spiritual direction inside the convent.

The writing of Madeleine's life would therefore reflect the substantial contribution that a legal family from the robe nobility made to caring for the bodies and souls of the sick poor during the French Counter-Reformation. It would also simultaneously legitimate the admission of pious lay benefactors such as the Lamoignons into the Visitation convent in the Faubourg Saint-Jacques. These concerns coalesce particularly at various points in Sister Anne-Elisabeth's narrative. Here Madeleine was presented not just as a valuable lay patron but as a spiritually privileged lay retreatant. Sister Anne-Elisabeth described, for example, one occasion when Madeleine was cured of a knee complaint in the convent chapel dedicated to their “saint fondateur” Sales.57 Sister Anne-Elisabeth was a highly adept biographer in this regard, and in her construction of Madeleine as the saintly lay dévote she successfully merged her familial and institutional interests.

That Madeleine's enterprising Visitandine nieces were architects in the writing of her life chimes with a burgeoning body of scholarship on female religious writing across a number of orders.58 Nuns have been revealed to be influential and productive writers and letter writers. Convents were producing not only biographies but also a whole range of devotional, literary, and administrative texts.59 The historiography of nuns exiled on the continent is especially rich in this area and has uncovered a transnational, textual Catholic community.60 A more recent theme in this field has been to recover the reception of female-authored texts and the processes of copying and translation that made their circulation in manuscript possible.61 The evidence presented in this article for the reading and writing of female lives at the Visitandine house in Paris should be regarded as part of this broader culture of female writing, editing, and collation in early modern Europe.62 In this case, too, nuns were the orchestrators of a writing project that involved their collaboration with laywomen and male clerics. They were also reading the biographies of other laywomen and quite possibly playing a part in their circulation. Moreover, this case study also exemplifies a pattern that other scholars have identified in seventeenth-century France: the gradual but growing tendency for women to assume the role of biographer.63

Emerging from this complex picture of authorship is a collaborative portrait of life writing, seen here in the case of Madeleine's life.64 The writing of a spiritual biography was collective and cumulative. This mirrors a broader pattern in spiritual biographies produced elsewhere in early modern Europe, as well as texts from other devotional genres.65 We know, for example, that the spiritual biographies of Maria Maddelena De’ Pazzi (1566–1607) were redrafted and produced different versions of the female saint.66 This also reflects Darcy R. Donahue's findings in Spanish vidas, which were often cosigned and were sometimes written in tandem through dictation.67 What is perhaps unique about the spiritual biographies of Madeleine de Lamoignon is the extent and degree of revision. The writing of Madeleine's life was a gradual process of reworking across four different versions by at least five contributors (Teste, Anne-Elisabeth, Orléans, Chrétien-François, and Marsollier). Among the other discernible voices in the biographies is, of course, Madeleine's own. While none of her spiritual autobiographical writings appears to be independently extant, they were enshrined in all of the biographies via different degrees of reproduction.

Veiled Performances: Spiritual Autobiography in the Many Lives of Madeleine de Lamoignon

The boundary between biography and autobiography was blurred in early modern vitae.68 In France, and elsewhere in the early modern Catholic world, biographers often claimed to be unveiling for the first time the personal spiritual writings of their subject. Biographers sometimes quoted lengthy passages from the spiritual autobiographical writings of their subjects, allowing their readers to peer through a glass darkly at the souls of virtuous biographees.69 They often included the subject's life writings, whether they were conversion narratives and examinations of conscience, devotional reflections and maxims, or letters. Historians have revealed that this tended to occur when biographies were composed by the male spiritual director—often functioning as a confessor–spiritual director and confessor-hagiographer, who wanted to promote his own skill as a discerner of spirits in addition to celebrating mutually edifying spiritual friendships.70 Confessor–spiritual directors also had privileged access to such material and used it to subject their penitents' spiritual experience to scrutiny and verification. In turn, the lives of exemplary female penitents became entwined with the mastery of the spiritual director. Approaches to this genre of religious life writing have shifted in recent years as scholars have become more inclined to interpret women's spiritual writings as legitimated, rather than controlled, by the involvement of editing spiritual directors. Viewed in this way, female spiritual autobiographical writings are as much a genre for “empowerment and self-realization” as “surveillance.”71 Spiritual biographies have thus been increasingly interpreted by scholars of the early modern period as fundamentally collaborative texts, coauthored, in a sense, by both biographer and biographee.72

Madeleine's biography was not penned by her confessor–spiritual director, as I have established, yet her lives were based on the spiritual writings he instructed her to produce, as well as their correspondence.73 In Madeleine's case, however, her personal spiritual writings were reproduced in different ways by each of her biographers. In other words, as scholars we are presented with multiple versions of what is purportedly the same text. How should we interpret this? It is tempting to conclude that the spiritual biographies of women such as Madeleine cannot be used by historians and literary scholars to access personal female spiritual testimonies. Biographers were not always transparent about their sources or their selectiveness, and it is not always apparent whether or not they were relying on memory. As James Amelang has noted in his work on oral traza (or “sketches”) delivered during interrogations of the Spanish Inquisition, spiritual autobiographies by women could sometimes be delivered orally or even transcribed by another person, making them “autobiographical speech acts” rather than textual repositories of spiritual experiences.74 The graver methodological problem is that it is difficult to prove that such accounts originated from the subject in the first place. It is entirely possible that they were simply projections of the biographer, and it is certainly clear that male authors in this genre exercised their creative license—or what Jodi Bilinkoff called the “prerogatives of authorship.”75

That said, the spiritual autobiographical writings reproduced in the vitae of women such as Madeleine de Lamoignon should not be regarded as having been simply invented by their biographers. Many biographers in the post-Tridentine period positioned themselves as having exhumed otherwise lost edificatory writings for the spiritual benefits of their readers, and many cast themselves accordingly as “faithful copyists.”76 This was probably a product of the post-Tridentine concern with the accuracy of hagiographies after the Catholic Church tightened up the procedures for the creation of new saints.77 Biographers also used “an array of typological means” to distinguish between their words and those of their subjects, including “italics, quotation marks, brackets, large print.”78 When we reconfigure our understanding of spiritual biographers as the liberators of lost and forgotten female writings, it is less tempting to regard their reproductions of female testimony with suspicion. Rather than treat their reproductions of female writings as inventions, then, it seems prudent to develop a critical approach to their strategies as editors. This has important methodological consequences for how scholars might listen for female voices in spiritual biographies. Just as Dyan Elliott's image of the “veiled performance” suggests, the lives of Madeleine de Lamoignon do not permit us access to her unmediated voice.79 They do, however, reveal how each of her biographers managed her seemingly prolific hand.

The first life of Madeleine, composed by “Madame Teste,” makes some references to Madeleine's own writings. However, the text was drafted, for the most part, as a narrative account of Madeleine's charitable projects inspired by the life of Vincent de Paul. Since the author's objective was not to reconstruct her personal spirituality extensively, most of Madeleine's spiritual autobiographical writings are rendered into the third person, and it is almost impossible to extract Madeleine's voice from them. Madeleine's Visitandine niece was responding to these omissions when she sketched the fundamental premise of her revised biography: “The memoirs which Madame Teste has written of the life of Mademoiselle de Lamoignon so accurately mark the details of these great and perpetual acts of charity that to avoid repeating them, we will not write of them.”80 We learn that anecdotes about Madeleine's acts of charity that had “escaped” Teste's knowledge would be included, but fundamentally the life would be about Madeleine's interior spirit. Sister Anne-Elisabeth stated unequivocally that they wanted to “give an idea of her interior which we have penetrated well and which very few people have known.”81 The language of this prefatory statement confirms the collective nature of the endeavor: Madeleine's “interior” had been glimpsed by the Visitandine sisters, and together they sought to disclose it to their readers. Who precisely this readership was is unclear from the extant manuscript. It was not unusual in this period for female religious to write lives for their own consumption or even to draft memoirs intended to supply an official biographer with material.82 Given what we know about Anne-Elisabeth's later efforts to procure Marsollier as her aunt's biographer, the latter scenario seems most likely.

Reflecting the intellectual and spiritual premises of the biography, most of the Visitandine's account is dominated by long excerpts from what are described as Madeleine's writings “in her own hand” that the Visitandines had discovered.83 The authenticity of Madeleine's writings seems to be a particular concern for the nun, and her copies of them are interspersed with her efforts to establish the date and site of their composition.84 We learn from her that Madeleine underwent several periods of spiritual retreat at the Visitation house. The first was in 1636 after the death of her father. The second period came after Madeleine had appointed a new confessor–spiritual director to oversee her devotional life: Jacques Aubery (d. 1684), regular canon of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. This was a particularly productive episode for Madeleine, and her Visitandine biographer transcribed seventeen folios purported to be her aunt's spiritual writings. Elsewhere in the text, she quotes generously from several other kinds of writing drawn from Madeleine's papers, including a set of reflections on excerpts from the Gospels. From her niece's perspective, the inclusion of Madeleine's spiritual writings may have been an important testimony to her place as a female visionary comparable to the mystics who enjoyed strong cults in early modern convents.85 Perhaps more critically, the citation of these passages describing Madeleine's affective and contemplative experiences also permitted the insertion of the Visitation house as a central space in the devotional life of this Lady of Charity. The “permeability” of Visitandine houses was a key aspect of their role in female devotional culture in this period.86 By situating Madeleine's spiritual progress inside the convent, the sisters legitimated the presence of worldly women inside the cloister in the post-Tridentine age of enclosure.

The first set of writings communicated by Sister Anne-Elisabeth was seemingly composed during a retreat Madeleine made to another religious house: the nearby Discalced Carmelite convent on the Rue Saint-Jacques, which had been newly founded in 1604.87 We learn from the Visitandine that the retreat was undertaken for Madeleine to contemplate entering religious orders. The preamble to this account is a series of exchanges between Madeleine and her confessor, and Anne-Elisabeth noted that she was working from extant letters “in their hands.”88 From these extracts it appears that Madeleine's uncertainty about her vocation stemmed largely from her recognition that religious vows would be the most “joyous” state, but she sensed something telling her that God, “her love,” did not want that for her.89

While all of Madeleine's biographers presented this period in her life as a process of negotiation with her parents (particularly her father) and her confessor, in the Visitandine version of events Madeleine's own interior struggle is prioritized. That is, her communications with her confessor are embedded in the narrative, and her father is presented as having impeded the clarity Madeleine sought from God.90 Instead, Madeleine's personal reflections are presented fully by her niece over six folios.91 The nun estimated that these writings were composed in 1631, shortly before Madeleine made her final resolutions on June 11, the feast of Saint Barnabus.92 Some of Madeleine's spiritual experiences during the retreat were intensely affective: “The first day of my retreat I was occupied in prayer on the passion of Our Lord because it is a subject capable of touching my heart and arresting the liveliness of my spirit. . . . The following day in my morning prayer I had strong intimate and penetrating sentiments of affection for Our Lord.”93 The nun did not appear to have hesitated about reporting Madeleine's heart having been “touched” by Christ and his love feeling intimate and penetrating. That is not to say that Madeleine's spiritual writings were not subject to some degree of scrutiny by her niece. On some occasions, she made annotations and commented in particular on qualities of Madeleine's interior spirit and even errors in her judgment.94 Yet her readiness to reproduce personal spiritual writings in which Madeleine imitated the emotional and almost erotic mystical language of divine union is significant.95 The nun thus used Madeleine's own testimony to tell the story of Madeleine's inner torment in the months before she made her resolutions.

In both the presentation manuscript and the two further copies of the Jesuit biography, Pierre-Joseph d'Orléans condensed this productive period of retreat. His version of Madeleine's protracted spiritual toil was rendered into one passage describing how her attempts to ask God about her choice of path were accomplished during “several retreats,” where “in solitude, God spoke to her heart through the inner voice of the holy spirit.”96 Importantly, the Jesuit acknowledges this period as transformative, but in his retelling the role of the confessor is foregrounded. We learn that Madeleine wrote to her confessor, the curé of the Parisian parish of Saint-Josse, and asked him to examine her conscience via return letter. The Jesuit biographer quotes lengthy passages, apparently verbatim, from this correspondence.97 The essence of the exchange was that Madeleine wrote to ask her confessor to discern her spirits and help her interpret God's will with regard to her vocation. The confessor's response, we learn from the Jesuit, confirmed Madeleine's feelings about the divine origins of the “inspiration” she had felt to “live celibately.”98 It is revealing here that the writings Madeleine composed in a letter to a confessor (and thus under his radar) were almost fully incorporated by the Jesuit biographer, whereas those she wrote freely in the Carmelite convent were compressed. Madeleine's own story about the interior workings of her spirit was thus far less central in this Jesuit reconfiguration.

As Madeleine's fourth biographer, Jacques Marsollier seems to have taken another tack. He commenced his reiteration of this period of Madeleine's life by acknowledging her “irresolution” prompted by the doubts she felt over her calling to the religious life.99 Like the Jesuit biographer, Marsollier abridged Madeleine's spiritual writings, but he did allude to the stirring conversations with God recounted more fully by Sister Anne-Elisabeth: “She addressed herself to God himself and prayed him to make His will known to her. Do not abandon me, she said to him, in these uncertainties, disperse the darkness which stops me from knowing what you ask of me, it is you alone that I search for.”100 Marsollier appears to have been more willing than the Jesuit to provide his reader with a window onto Madeleine's soul. This may be indicative of his remit from the family. As noted above, the Lamoignons wanted the spiritual biography of their aunt to reveal her “interior” as well as the charitable works for which she was better known. Perhaps Marsollier's attempts to do this betray their motivations for procuring a fourth biography? The cleric nonetheless tempered his account by supplementing it with a protracted narrative detailing Madeleine's interactions with her confessor following the retreat and a lengthier version of her communications with her father.101

There are three retellings of the story here in which Madeleine's own voice is variously emphasized, muted, and censored by her biographers. Pierre-Joseph d'Orléans was perhaps most keen to accentuate Madeleine's subjection to her confessor's authority and only really wanted his reader to observe her epistolary communications with him. Marsollier, arguably writing to satiate the Lamoignon family desires for a portrait of their aunt's interior, allowed his reader to glimpse Madeleine's own spiritual labors, albeit in a lengthy process of navigating the concerns of her father and her male confessor. The Visitandine Anne-Elisabeth filled her memoirs of Madeleine's life with her spiritual autobiographical writings and was even prepared to quote those that revealed her aunt's faults.

The nun's emphasis on her aunt's interiority was consistent with Visitandine spirituality in its later seventeenth-century form and may help explain why she chose to foreground it. While their founders initially envisaged the spiritual life of a Visitandine as one of simplicity rather than “intellectual achievement,” it gradually gave way to a more mystical pursuit of a “higher state.”102 As Jacques Le Brun and Elizabeth Rapley have both argued, later seventeenth-century Visitandine biographies and death notices were mystical in tone, including the “passive” prayer techniques that came to be associated with Madame Guyon (1648–1717).103 Essentially, this method of prayer required an abandonment of the senses to allow the soul to turn to God. In addition to these mystical themes, Le Brun found that the biographies Visitandines composed about the lives of their fellow sisters were shaped by protestations about the fear of death, anxieties over the judgment of God, and spiritual “aridity” (sécheresses).104 When considered within this broader context of Visitandine spirituality, Sister Anne-Elisabeth's motivations for securing a biography that was more attuned to her aunt's interior struggle become clear.

The editorial choices made by Madeleine's biographers almost certainly reflected their purposes and target audience. As a female nun, Anne-Elisabeth possibly expected that her male clerical collaborators would edit, enhance, or censor her lengthy reproductions of Madeleine's spiritual autobiography. If she was writing simply to supply Marsollier (and previously the Jesuit) with details of her aunt's testimonies, she could be less cautious about the material she copied. Pierre-Joseph d'Orléans and Jacques Marsollier, on the other hand, were writing with a more public reception of the text in mind—at the very least manuscript circulation but probably publication in print. These considerations remind us that distinctions have to be made between the spiritual biographies produced for the printing press and those compiled for smaller-scale transmission.105

Perhaps more significantly, the strategies each author adopted uncover how biographers functioned as editors. In other words, they can tell us more about which aspects of female spiritual writings may have been “alternately amplified and muffled” by different categories of biographer, whether lay or religious, male or female.106 This is further exemplified by the selections Madeleine's biographers continued to make about the kinds of writings they reproduced. Both Orléans and Marsollier incorporated Madeleine's writings in their discussions of her interiority but in a more discriminating way. Interestingly, neither of the male biographers was as careful as the nun in pinpointing the dates of Madeleine's writings—probably because, unlike the Visitandine, they did not have a strong dedication to the convent that inspired the works. They were also less cautious about distinguishing Madeleine's words from their gloss—perhaps an attempt to lend her writings credibility. Both also prefaced their copies of Madeleine's spiritual writings in a similar way. The Jesuit noted that “there remain some fragments of her writings” from her retreats that allowed him to see the “interior principles” underpinning her charity and added, “Here are the most remarkable ones.”107 Marsollier borrowed heavily from the Jesuit in his almost identical introductory passage, adding a note on their edificatory potential and his motivations for reproducing those that he believed “will be most useful to the reader.”108 Although it is clear that the ensuing text in both male-authored biographies is based substantially on the same set of writings, Marsollier's reproduction of Madeleine's reflections is fuller, continuing for six folios.109

A comparative look at the copies Orléans and Marsollier made of the “most remarkable” sections of Madeleine's writings, cross-referenced against the versions reproduced in Sister Anne-Elisabeth's life, brings the editing preferences of the biographers into sharper focus. During Madeleine's second retreat at the Visitation house, for example, in the first day of her solitude one of her spiritual exercises was to reflect on her own dedication to God.110 Three of Madeleine's biographers reproduced a slightly different version of the writings Madeleine set to paper that day, in which it is possible to see the processes of condensing (and perhaps censoring?) at work (table 1). Each biographer shaped the nature of the spiritual experience Madeleine purportedly described. In all three versions of her testimony, Madeleine's reflections were dominated by fears that she had transgressed or offended God through her past conduct, but her responses to these anxieties were markedly different in each case. In her niece's account, Madeleine felt (“senti”) drawn to God and threw herself at Christ's feet (“jetter a ces pieds”). She found comfort (“calmer ma crainte”) in faith and love by reminding herself of his promise to save the sinners as well as the righteous. In the Jesuit account, doubts over her many transgressions were eased when she read (“quand je lis”) that Christ would save the sinners. Marsollier's adaptation contains more literary embellishments and rhetorical devices, such as projections about Madeleine's own internal dialogue, which are more broadly consistent with his style as biographer. Yet here, too, it was when Madeleine read about Christ's promise that her fears dissipated and she felt filled with faith and love. The assurance that Christ came to call the sinners, not the righteous, to repentance is a biblical reference to Jesus's calling of the tax collector Levi in the New Testament. Essentially, for Madeleine's two male biographers, then, this was a spiritual experience grounded in the reading of scripture. Conversely, for Sister Anne-Elisabeth, Madeleine's experience was guided not by reading but by emotion. It was then intensified by physical gestures (whether real or imagined prostration at Christ's feet) and further reflection. This was an affective spiritual experience that the Jesuit and Marsollier later toned down in less expressive and more sober reworkings.

The Jesuit biographer's strategy here requires further elucidation since it appears at odds with the affective prayer that characterized Jesuit spiritual direction in this period. The Jesuit founder Ignatius Loyola's (1491–1556) widely read devotional text, the Spiritual Exercises, offered a program of prayer that was later appropriated by lay and religious readers and was premised on meditation upon emotional scenes in the life of Christ. In theory, Jesuits were not supposed to direct the souls of nuns, nor were women supposed to progress past the initial stages of Loyola's Exercises.111 Despite this, Ignatian prayer was widely practiced in female religious houses by the seventeenth century.112 In Vannes in Brittany, a Jesuit retreat house was even established specifically for women undertaking the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, even though the order in Rome opposed it.113 The Jesuit biographer's restraint did not, then, reflect any broader Jesuit attitude toward women and affective spirituality. It likely was a reflection of the ultimate goal of the writing of Madeleine's biography: that the Church formally recognize her virtues and exemplary piety. That was unlikely to happen if she appeared as an unregulated lay female mystic, something against which France had already seen a reaction in the antimystical movements of the pre-Quietist and Quietist controversies during the mid- to late seventeenth century.114 Likewise, Marsollier's approach can also be interpreted as an expression of a similar cautiousness. It is worth noting here that some male spiritual biographers of the period were even less willing to reproduce female writings than either the Jesuit or Marsollier.115 Neither Marsollier nor the Jesuit were so conservative in their approach, but they appear to have been strategic in what they did reproduce. Both biographers completely omitted Madeleine's reflections on Gospel excerpts and her list of resolutions, for example.

It is not possible to know whether the two male biographers were being supplied with Madeleine's own writings or whether they relied on the nun's transcriptions. There is, of course, no reason to assume that Sister Anne-Elisabeth's version was the most faithful to the original; Madeleine's own writings do not survive, and we therefore have little sense of whether, and how far, her niece had already adapted them. We can be sure, however, that for the Visitandine her aunt's writings were produced not in any dangerously independent sphere but inside the confines of the cloister and seemingly at the behest of her new confessor, Aubery. During Madeleine's retreat in the convent, she had experienced some of the spiritual toils in prayer that Visitandines were writing about elsewhere in their biographies. Sister Anne-Elisabeth had set out in detail these affective experiences and the remarkable spiritual progress of her aunt during the retreat, which appeared in the male biographies in an abridged format.

Of broader significance here is the indication of subtle variations in the stories that different categories of spiritual biographers chose to tell about their subjects.116 The nature of the surviving sources does not always afford us this detail; many convent draft lives, in particular, were discarded after more official versions were published and thus became lost and “forgotten” female texts.117 Only by reconstructing the processes of writing lives can we start to see these editorial strategies at work. The role played by male clerical biographers in condensing female spiritual autobiographical writings may have been considerable, while, as Nicolas Paige has observed, “some of the sharpest formulations of the need for a new interior sort of writing were, in fact, the work of women.”118

Spiritual Biography as Hagiography: Madeleine de Lamoignon's Exemplary Death

The Counter-Reformation ushered in a new era in saint making. In 1588 the Catholic Church ended a sixty-three-year hiatus in canonization and in the following forty-one years canonized some thirteen saints, including the mystic Teresa of Ávila (1515–82). In 1588 the Church also launched its Sacred Congregation of Rites and Ceremonies, which was to oversee the examination of candidates for canonization. Spiritual biographies, or hagiographies, were often part of canonization causes and were used as proof of miracles that the candidate had performed, as already noted.119 The post-Tridentine Church's new regulatory attitude toward the canonization process had resulted in a decree of March 13, 1625, that explicitly proscribed unapproved cults surrounding holy men and women. This was later modified on October 2, 1625, to allow for the private veneration of recently deceased pious persons, but public cults remained prohibited.120 Spiritual biographers also had to navigate a very rigid set of prescriptions on “saint making,” which meant they could not make unsubstantiated claims about miracles or revelations. Biographers were required to make explicit their status as writers of “human history” rather than testifiers to saintliness.121 In reality, however, spiritual biographers did relate stories of miraculous healings, even surrounding laywomen.122 As Antoinette Gimaret has expertly shown, the body was a key site for the construction of saintliness in spiritual biographies and provided indisputable proof that the body was “canonisable.”123

None of Madeleine's four biographers made specific claims about miraculous healings surrounding Madeleine's body or her tomb, but they did all construct different accounts of her holy death using hagiographic tropes to present her as a holy daughter (sainte fille) worthy of veneration. The life written by Madame Teste gives an account of Madeleine's death on the morning of April 24, 1687. It describes her dying in an armchair, after which she was placed in her bed for close to three days.124 During this period, her face remained “beautiful” and “rosy,” her body produced no odor, and there was something unusually “venerable” about her face. The biographer exercised some semantic caution about making any explicit claims to sanctity, but she did infer the existence of an emerging cult: “Many persons of piety and of merit among her friends came to pray to God for her, but some reciting the Laudate and others the Te Deum, not being able to believe that someone filled with the love of God and charity for the poor as she had been could remain without receiving reward for her great works.”125 In this rendering of her death, Madeleine's contemporaries praised her with the recitation of psalms (Laudate) and the chanting of the Te Deum. Both were traditionally used in liturgical ceremonies as songs of praise or thanksgiving; here they seem to have served as evidence of Madeleine's saintly reputation among her contemporaries. This may have also reflected the biographer's attempts to establish an early cult surrounding the unofficial saint.126 It is noteworthy here that Teste, a fellow laywoman, appears to have emphasized Madeleine's empathy and charity toward the poor as deserving of “reward.” Here, Madeleine's passing was lamented because of her “great works” rather than any claims to visionary status.

Sister Anne-Elisabeth's account of her aunt's death added more color. Here, too, Madeleine's passing occurred at 11:30 a.m. on the morning of April 24, 1687, with “Madame Teste” present at her death bed.127 This time her death was accompanied by a musical witness to her saintliness as a “concert of trumpets could be heard beneath the windows of her chamber.” For the nun this was proof of the “joy felt by the angels in receiving her soul.” The Visitandine's gloss also appended the detail that, as Madeleine lay on her bed in that state for two days, people came to look on her “like a saint” and collected items and belongings that had been in contact with her.128 Sister Anne-Elisabeth's version of Madeleine's death and early cult reflected some of her broader objectives as biographer. The centrality of the Visitation convent in the rendering of Madeleine's death was reinforced by the conclusion to the text, which reported that her heart was sent to reside with the Visitandine sisters after her death. Sister Anne-Elisabeth noted the ceremony that accompanied the arrival of the “precious treasure” into the convent church.129

Pierre-Joseph d'Orléans sought to make Madeleine's death even more unambiguously saintly. His version narrated her death “in the odor of sanctity” but also expounded it with an account of the miraculous preservation of Madeleine's face.130 He wrote that for two days in her bed her face remained “without change.” He also made her corpse comparable to the “body of saints” that people “hastened to see” and requested some of Madeleine's personal effects “to keep as relics.”131 Incorruptible corpses were, of course, a common feature of saints' lives and were usually accepted as miraculous proof of sanctity. Transformed features on the saintly corpse were thought to signify the soul's presence with God in heaven.132 White faces or those that seemed to radiate light were also part of this hagiographic code.

In the final biography, Jacques Marsollier was mostly faithful to the Jesuit's account of Madeleine's death. His version of the miraculous preservation of her face is identical to the Jesuit's. In his final passage, like the Jesuit, Marsollier emphasized the virtues that this “holy soul” (a phrase used by both biographers) had practiced to such a “high degree of perfection,” but he added the detail that Madeleine's life had been one dedicated to the “most heroic charity.”133 He prefaced his description of Madeleine's passing, however, with a longer preamble that conveyed Madeleine's intense fear of death. This was perhaps intended to balance accounts of her sanctity with an impression of her humility. It may have also signaled her courageous response to her imminent death. He recounted in full her dying conversations with her confessor, Dubois, for example, in which Madeleine expressed her fear about facing God's “justice” but also her confidence in his mercy.134 Interestingly, the Jesuit author condensed Madeleine's own words in his rendering of her deathbed encounter with Dubois.135 This may again indicate Marsollier's desire to give a fuller portrayal of her interior than his Jesuit predecessor had permitted. For Marsollier, the reader was to learn from the way Madeleine conducted herself in her final moments; she received the sacraments with the “faith,” “love,” and “respect” that one would expect of someone who had led such a “holy life.”136

In all of Madeleine's biographies, she died in the odor of sanctity. Her biographers built up the scene of her holy death in layers gleaned from the lives already at their disposal. In the first biography, Teste inferred the existence of a cult surrounding Madeleine immediately following her death because of her love for the poor. The Jesuit later sidelined Sister Anne-Elisabeth's more poetic account of the trumpet chorus, but both he and Marsollier emphasized the details of what they clearly perceived as indisputable evidence of her saintly status: the unchanged face. In the final biography, although Marsollier did not embellish Orléans's account of her incorruptible corpse, he was more attentive to the workings of Madeleine's interior in her final moments, just as he had been elsewhere in the text, possibly at the request of his Visitandine supplicants.

In the textual construction of Madeleine's saintliness, it was her “official” male biographers who were more explicit than her female counterparts. At one level this can be explained by the fact that both the Jesuit and Marsollier were authors with reputations for writing and publishing vitae, something that may have given them greater confidence in writing about Madeleine's exemplary death. Their apparent ambitiousness as “aspiring saint makers”137 may also have been an expression of their desire to manage her lay status in their constructions of her sanctity. This is not to say that the charitable work of laywomen could not be a route to sanctity in itself; the case of the married Italian laywoman Catherine of Genoa canonized in 1737 is an example of a successful and well-known later cause on that basis. However, Madeleine was unmarried and did not belong to a Third Order as did many of the women who were canonized in this period. As an “uncloistered bride of Christ,” she was a “dangerous alternative” to what the Church intended for women.138 This was arguably more consequential to her professional male biographers, who may have fine-tuned the details of Madeleine's death to correspond with the saintly deaths of women who made more conventional life choices.

In their passages on Madeleine's holy death, in particular, both male biographers appeared to have leaned more heavily on an established hagiographic repertoire of saintly qualities and signs. As historian Peter Burke put it in his seminal essay on Counter-Reformation saints, there were a “relatively small number of saintly roles, or routes to holiness,” and any potential new candidates had to be “matched with old roles.”139 There were few seventeenth-century female exemplars on which Madeleine's biographers could base their accounts, since only five females were canonized by the Catholic Church in their lifetimes. Aspects of their accounts were thus reminiscent of a longer tradition that included the deaths of women such as the Italian nun Catherine of Bologna (d. 1463), whose face was said to turn fresh and beautiful after her death. There are also, however, particularly strong parallels with the deaths of new female saints such as Teresa of Ávila, whose deathbed face looked “brighter, younger and suddenly more beautiful” when she was presented with the Eucharist. After Teresa's death, the wrinkles in her skin were said to have disappeared and her face was described as radiant, for example.140 Madeleine's male biographers believed, then, that to demonstrate her potential as a Counter-Reformation saint she had to die like a Counter-Reformation nun.

Of all her biographers, it was Marsollier who most unambiguously set out to present Madeleine's life as worthy of veneration. Even in the opening paragraphs of the first book of Madeleine's life, he explicitly made her story comparable to that of the “life of a saint” of “great edification for the Church.”141 Yet however edifying Madeleine's many lives were to their readers, this was ultimately a story of failed saint making, as the Church never formally recognized the Lady of Charity as a holy woman. Related to Madeleine's status as a “failed saint” is the fact that all of her biographies remained unpublished. Of course, there is no straightforward connection between the publication of a biography and a successful canonization cause. For instance, biographies of the foundress Jeanne de Chantal began to be published a year after her death, yet she was not canonized until the mid-eighteenth century. There is also a large body of published biographies of lay female mystics and charitable benefactors, in many cases authored by experienced and reputable biographers, that have not produced new saints. It seems clear, however, that Madeleine's female family members were seeking a published biography in the hope that their aunt would receive the public and formal recognition they felt she deserved. In this case, as with many other manuscript biographies of seventeenth-century laywomen, the reasons that publication never came are unclear. In writing her lives, nevertheless, Madeleine's spiritual biographers had commemorated her interior and exterior devotional life. The existence of multiple copies of some of these manuscripts suggests that, in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the texts were being read and circulated among pious readers who wanted to memorialize the extraordinary life of this Counter-Reformation dévote.142

Conclusion

This article has contended that the collaborative nature of early modern vitae can be better understood by considering the processes of drafting and editing that underpinned the writing of Madeleine de Lamoignon's spiritual biography. Women were instrumental in this process, even if it was in their capacity as “ghostwriters.” In the case of Madeleine de Lamoignon's spiritual biography, Sister Anne-Elisabeth, possibly in collaboration with some of her Visitandine sisters, wrote substantial portions of the life of a woman outside the convent wall—potentially in response to a biography written by another laywoman. The authorial voices of these women were hushed in the presentation copy of Madeleine's life by Pierre-Joseph d'Orléans and in its retelling by Jacques Marsollier. The writing of Madeleine's life was also clearly connected to a much broader culture of lay spiritual biography in seventeenth-century France that appears to have inspired the project and that is yet to be critically examined by scholars. As historians turn their attention to lives produced beyond the convent wall, as well as those inside it, it may become clearer if and how lay female spiritual biographies mirrored the contours of the long Counter-Reformation in France.

It is clear from this single case study that different kinds of biographers managed the status of prospective lay female saints in a number of ways. In particular, Madeleine's male biographers seem to have downplayed the idiosyncrasies of her spiritual experiences and used hagiographic prototypes in their accounts of her holy death. This may have smoothed over Madeleine's status as an uncloistered and unmarried woman and strengthened the case for her saintliness. Sister Anne-Elisabeth, as a Visitandine nun, was more inclined to prioritize what appeared to be Madeleine's words over her own authorial gloss, a technique that also allowed her to give precedence to the Visitandine house as a space for interiority. As a fellow laywoman and Lady of Charity, Madame Teste was perhaps the most satisfied with a biography that simply centered on Madeleine's role as a servant of the poor. The biographers' respective treatments of Madeleine's own spiritual autobiographical writings thus serve as an important cautionary tale against using biographies to access women's personal spiritual writings, without a critical awareness of the “veiled performance” we are witnessing.

The excavation of the writing process behind Madeleine's biographies thus also reveals a “life” in translation. Each biographer produced a narrative that borrowed from existing texts and made modifications and additions that reflected their objectives as authors. Even the presentation copy of Madeleine's biography written by Pierre-Joseph d'Orléans was not the definitive version as envisaged by the Lamoignon family, who were still commissioning the production of different redactions as late as 1703. Madeleine de Lamoignon's life was still very much evolving, it seems, sixteen years after her death.

Acknowledgments

Much of the research for this article was carried out during a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chester and a Visiting Fellowship at the Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway. The author thanks the anonymous reviewers and the editors of French Historical Studies, whose suggestions have been invaluable. The author is also indebted to Professor Alison Forrestal, who pointed out the existence of a fourth spiritual biography of Madeleine de Lamoignon and helped refine the argument presented in this article. In the title of this essay, many lives refers to a seminal 1999 article by Jodi Bilinkoff, “The ‘Many’ Lives of Pedro de Ribadeneyra.”

Notes

1.

Archives Nationales (hereafter AN), Archives Privées (hereafter AP), 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce Anne-Elisabeth de Lamoignon, religieuse aux filles de Sainte-Marie, du faubourg Saint-Jacques.”

2.

The Dames de la Charité received some extensive treatment in Diefendorf, From Penitence to Charity; Madeleine is discussed at 239–40.

3.

The most recent works on the confraternity of the Filles are Brejon de Lavergnée, Des Filles de la Charité; and Brejon de Lavergnée, Histoire des Filles de la Charité. See also Dinan, Women and Poor Relief; and Peake, “Daughters of Charity.”

4.

On their popularity, see Bilinkoff, “Confessors, Penitents, and the Construction of Identities,” 83, 94. See also Bilinkoff, Related Lives, 33.

5.

Suire, La saintété française.

6.

“Losers” (perdenti) is Miguel Gotor's term, cited in Schutte, “Ecco la Santa!,” 114.

7.

Le Brun, Soeur et amante. For Le Brun's work on biographies, see also “Cancer serpit,” “L'institution et le corps,” and “Conversion et continuité intérieures.”

8.

Spiritual biographies of laywomen in this period do, nevertheless, survive in both print and manuscript. Examples of better-known printed lives of lay female charitable patrons in this period are Faydeau, La lumière cachée; and Bauduen, La vie admirable de . . . Charlotte-Marguerite de Gondy.

9.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France (hereafter BNF), Manuscrits Fonds Français (hereafter MS Fr.) 14342.

10.

The subheading on the title page is taken from Psalm 41: “Beatus qui intelligit super egenum et pauperem in die mala liberabit eum domus” (Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble).

11.

Diefendorf, From Penitence to Charity, 239.

12.

Diefendorf, From Penitence to Charity, 240.

13.

Weber, “Devout Laywomen,” 16.

14.

See, e.g., Saint-Martin de La Porte, L'idée de la véritable et solide dévotion.

15.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par le R. P. d'Orléans.”

16.

The other version is in BNF, MS Fr. 23985. This version of Madeleine's life by the Jesuit appears to be a copy. This repository also contains a series of memoirs intended to supply a life of Madeleine's brother, Guillaume de Lamoignon (1617–77).

17.

Some of Orléans's works include La vie du B. Stanislas Kostka, La vie du P. Charles Spinola, and La vie du Père Pierre Coton.

18.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon, anonyme.” This life, tentatively attributed to “Madame Teste” on the title page, is almost certainly a later copy, perhaps in the hands of one of the Visitandine sisters, and was probably attributed to her by them.

19.

Brejon de Lavergnée, Histoire des Filles de la Charité, 8.

20.

The “third status” was Gabriella Zarri's phrase in “Third Status.” For examples of spiritual biographies of French women of the third status, see Le Martre, La vie mêlée. Another example is Anne de Xainctonge (1567–1621), the subject of a number of intersecting biographies by male and female biographers; see Le Bourgeois, Ursulines d'Anne de Xainctonge. For another Parisian life written by a laywoman, see Bibliothèque Mazarine, MS 2489, “Mémoires pour servir à la vie de Madame de Miramion,” which outlines the life of Marie de Miramion later published by the abbé de Choisy and which has been attributed to her daughter, Marguérite. The hand in this extant manuscript looks like a later copy but is cited as Marguérite's work in Gude, “Madame de Miramion.” For the later published version, apparently based on these memoirs by Miramion's daughter, see Choisy, La vie de Madame de Miramion.

21.

Louis Abelly's (1604–91) La vie du vénérable serviteur de Dieu.

22.

This first version of Madeleine's spiritual biography is ninety-two folios long and regularly alludes to the “vie” of Paul in marginal annotations. See AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon, anonyme”; fols. 2 and 12 are examples of this.

23.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce.”

24.

In AN, 399/AP/5, fol. 75, she acknowledges Madame Teste's discussion of Marie-Louise de Gonzague.

25.

Convent chronicles and collectively authored “sisterbooks” produced in the German context are both examples of this: Lowe, Nuns' Chronicles and Convent Culture, 36–37. On collective writing in the convent, see also Bowden, “Collecting the Lives”; and Goodrich, “Nuns and Community-Centred Writing.”

26.

AN, 399/AP/5, Anne-Elisabeth de Lamoignon to M. Marsollier, Feb. 8, 1703.

27.

AN, 399/AP/5, Anne-Elisabeth de Lamoignon to M. Marsollier.

28.

See Smith, Fealty and Fidelity; and Burkardt, “Filles de la Charité.”

29.

This appears to have been Marie-Henriette de Chandenier de Rochechouart, who had been elected superior of the Visitation house in 1670, 1673, and 1691 and who was closely connected to Paul. Marie-Louise de Chandenier had died in 1694, so she could not have been the correspondent. The other Chandenier nun at the second house of the Visitation in Paris was known in religion as Catherine-Henriette (Coste, Vincent de Paul, 71n4).

30.

AN, 399/AP/5, Marie de Chandenier to M. Marsollier, undated.

31.

Marsollier, La vie de St François de Sales; Marsollier, La vie de Dom Armand-Jean Le Bouthillier de Rancé; Marsollier, La vie de la venerable mere de Chantal.

32.

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (hereafter BSG), MS 4232, “La vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par Mr Marsollier chanoine de l'eglise de cathedral d'Usez, Paris, 1703.” Fol. 139 is the start of the “second book,” which begins with a long account of her mother's death and its impact on her; fol. 327 marks the start of the “third book,” which is the final part of the life.

33.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Memoires du President de Lamoignon sur sa tante Mlle de Lamoignon communiquées en 1703 à l'abbe Marsolier en vueu de lui permettre la redaction d'une vie de Mlle de L[amoignon] (Original de la main du President de L[amoignon] et copie).”

34.

AN, 399/AP/5, Marsollier to Anne-Elisabeth de Lamoignon, Oct. 4, 1703.

35.

BSG, MS 4232; see fol. 127 on the death of Charles I of England, fols. 128–29 on Catholic exiles in Paris, fol. 130 on Madeleine's role in securing charity for them as refugees, fol. 135 on the war between France and Spain, and fol. 138 for Marsollier's reference to this as a “history.”

36.

AN, 399/AP/5, Marsollier to Anne-Elisabeth de Lamoignon, Oct. 4, 1703.

37.

In BSG, MS 4232, fol. 125, is Marsollier's reference to a letter of Paul.

38.

For example, in his account of Madeleine's deliberations over which path she would take and her eventual decision to remain unmarried in the world, Marsollier borrows heavily from the Jesuit but also embellishes his gloss on her ability to use the “grace” God had given her. See, e.g., BSG, MS 4232, fols. 21–23, in Marsollier's version and BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fols. 11–12, in the Jesuit version. Marsollier also describes the story of a comforting letter kept by Madeleine from an anonymous correspondent that she had received after the death of her mother (BSG, MS 4232, fols. 146–47). This story was also present in Madame Teste's version (AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon, anonyme,” fol. 3), as well as the other two lives.

39.

There are other known examples of this, however. In Cambrai one of Lady Falkland's daughters wrote her biography (Cary, Tragedy of Mariam).

40.

On the family more generally, see Vian, Les Lamoignon.

41.

Marie-Elisabeth is referred to in the memoirs of Cardinal Mazarin's niece, Marie Mancini, in 1654 as the Visitandine sister who was responsible for her education and supervision (Nelson, Memoirs, 88).

42.

McHugh, Hospital Politics, 155. Guillaume's role in ensuring that physicians had adequate time with their patients has been recovered by McHugh, “Establishing Medical Men,” 216–17.

43.

This is not an original letter in Guillaume's hand but a copy at Bibliothèque Mazarine, MS 2486/4, “Lettre de Monsieur le premier président de Lamoignon à mesdames ses filles religieuses de la Visitation, De l'Hermitage de Saint Nicolas, ce 20 octobre 1677,” fols. 10–11.

44.

Bibliothèque Mazarine, MS 2486/4, fol. 12.

45.

AN, 399/AP/3, “Lettres de Guillaume de Lamoignon et sa femme Madeleine Potier à leur filles Elisabeth et Anne, religieuses aux filles de Ste Marie du Faubourg Saint Jacques.” Guillaume is understood to have had two daughters at the Visitation house, including Sister Anne-Elisabeth, who composed one of the lives of his sister Madeleine. Most of the letters contain the salutation “ma chere fille,” which suggests that the letters were addressed to Anne-Elisabeth alone. This may have followed the death of his other Visitandine daughter.

46.

AN, 399/AP/3, “Lettres de Guillaume de Lamoignon.”

47.

McHugh, Hospital Politics, 59–60.

48.

BNF, MS Fr. 23985.

49.

This version survives in BNF, MS Fr. 14347. It may be a later copy produced at the convent in the eighteenth century, as suggested by the hand. Olive's place in the convent is also confirmed by a document in the Parisian notarial archive, but little else is known of her. See AN, Minutier Central, ET/XIX/423, Feb. 6, 1642.

50.

AN, 399/AP/3, “Abrégé de la vie de la présidente de Nesmond par Mme de Miramion, suivi d'un codicille.”

51.

AN, 399/AP/ 5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 2.

52.

In addition to the circulation of the Lamoignon and Miramion lives, other laywomen in Paris were writing the lives of those connected to the families. For example, a lay female cousin of the Miramions wrote the spiritual biography of the superior of the first Visitation house on the Rue Saint-Antoine: Plessis, La vie de la vénérable mère Louise-Eugénie de Fontaine.

53.

Hsia, World of Catholic Renewal, 39.

54.

Hsia, World of Catholic Renewal, 39. On the Visitation order in this period, see the essays in Dompnier, Visitation et visitandines.

55.

Rapley, “‘Un Tresor Enfoui.’” The obituaries of both of Madeleine's Visitandine nieces survive in AN, 399/AP/3.

56.

Diefendorf, “Contradictions of the Century of Saints,” 485. See also Diefendorf, From Penitence to Charity, 179.

57.

AN, 399/AP/ 5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 134.

58.

See, for example, “Collection Mectildiana,” the major project on the writings of the Benedictine Catherine de Bar, Mère Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement (1614–98), directed by Daniel-Odon Hurel and Joël Letellier (Poutet, Catherine de Bar).

59.

The most recent reflections on this come from work on England; see Lay, Beyond the Cloister, 1.

60.

See Bowden and Kelly, English Convents in Exile; Hallett, Lives of Spirit; and Goodrich, Faithful Translators. On transnational communities of nuns, see Coolahan, “Identity Politics and Nuns' Writings.” On Irish nuns, see Coolahan, Women, Writing, and Language, esp. chap. 2.

61.

Coolahan, “Reception”; Coolahan, “Transnational Reception.” This theme is now part of “The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women's Writing, 1550–1700” (RECIRC), a major project funded by the European Research Council at the Moore Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

62.

The work of Thomas M. Carr Jr. has helped bring some of the French scholarship into dialogue with the Anglo-American work on convent writing (Cloister and the World), but comparative studies of French convent writing and Anglophone nuns have not yet been undertaken.

63.

On this, see Paige, “Enlightened (Il)literates,” 129.

64.

Some of the work of literary scholars is thus helpful for thinking about the processes of writing spiritual biographies in this period. Amy E. Robillard and Ron Fortune observe that “when we consider the ways in which authorship is so frequently contested, we come face to face with the realities of writing, of human memory, of collaboration, of influence” (Authorship Contested, 15). See also Sharpe and Zwicker, Writing Lives, 25.

65.

Moore, “Disappearance of an Author.”

66.

Clare Copeland has made this point in Maria Maddelena De’ Pazzi, 87.

67.

Donahue, “Wondrous Words,” 108.

68.

The title of this section is a reference to Dyan Elliott's concept of the veiled performance in Proving Woman, 8.

69.

The study of early modern spiritual biographies is thus intimately connected to the vast scholarship on spiritual autobiography, particularly the Anglo-American scholarship on the early modern Spanish world. As a starting point, see Howe, Autobiographical Writing; and Ibsen, Women's Spiritual Autobiography. The large body of scholarship on spiritual autobiography in the reformed and nonconformist traditions is also relevant to this. See, e.g., Seelig, Autobiography and Gender.

70.

I use Patricia Ranft's term confessor–spiritual director in this article to denote the overlapping roles of the cleric hearing confession and the one directing a spiritual life (“Key to Counter-Reformation Women's Activism”). Confessor-hagiographer is Jodi Bilinkoff's phrase (“Confessors, Penitents, and the Construction of Identities”; Related Lives, esp. chap. 2; and “Confessors as Hagiographers”). Spiritual biographies were not always composed by the confessor–spiritual director, as this article reveals. Anne Jacobson Schutte's essay on Italian spiritual biographies shows that many lives were written by clerics unconnected to their subjects (“Ecco la Santa!,” 113).

71.

Donahue, “Wondrous Words,” 108.

72.

Bilinkoff, “Confession, Gender, Life-Writing,” 180–81; Weber, “Literature by Women Religious,” 36.

73.

The spiritual autobiographical texts produced by Madeleine and countless other penitents in early modern Europe are sometimes referred to by scholars of the Hispanic context as vida por mandato (command autobiographies), because they were written out of obedience to the confessor. See Howe, Autobiographical Writing. On the fact that she wrote in response to a confessor's mandate, see below.

74.

Amelang, “Tracing Lives,” 33. Comparable analyses of oral testimonies include Kathleen Swaim's work on the statements New England churches required of their candidates before they could join congregations—what she called “inscriptions of self” (“Come and Hear,” 32).

75.

Bilinkoff, “Confessors, Penitents, and the Construction of Identities,” 93.

76.

See, for example, the Carmelite Paul du Saint-Sacrement's life of the mystic Marguerite Pignier. He reproduces large passages of her writings but in his prefatory statement assures the reader of his status as a faithful editor (Idée de la véritable piété, xvi).

77.

Smoller, The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby, 226.

78.

Paige, “Enlightened (Il)literates,” 124.

79.

Elliott, Proving Woman, 8.

80.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 1.

81.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 1. This is revisited later in the life (e.g., fols. 143–44).

82.

There are many examples of nuns having supplied material in the spiritual biographies written about the female religious in France in this period. For example, the spiritual director Charles-Louis de Lantages based his life of a Dominican nun on the memoirs written about her by Marie-Madeleine de Mauroy, but he acknowledged this genealogy of the text, which appears to have been rarer (La vie de la V. Mère Françoise des Séraphins). See Paige, “Enlightened (Il)literates,” 130.

83.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 12.

84.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce”; the writings during this first retreat span fols. 12–23. The thirteen resolutions that Madeleine is described as having made during her retreat span fols. 19–23.

85.

She notes at the beginning of the biography, for example, that Madeleine had an “illuminated spirit” (AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 1). On the strength of these cults in early modern convents, see Copeland, “Participating in the Divine,” 77–78.

86.

I have borrowed the concept of permeability from Lehfeldt, Religious Women in Golden Age Spain.

87.

The Carmelite convent on the Rue Saint-Jacques was regularly used by pious female elite for religious retreat in early modern Paris despite the Tridentine decrees of religious enclosure (Diefendorf, “Contradictions of the Century of Saints,” 480–81).

88.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fols. 9–11.

89.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fols. 9–10.

90.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 9.

91.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fols. 12–18.

92.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 18.

93.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 12.

94.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce.” Marginal notations inside brackets on fol. 16 point out the “délicatesse” of Madeleine's conscience and even weaknesses in her thoughts.

95.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce.” On the fourth day of her retreat Madeleine decided to submit to the will of God and deny her own wishes to take religious vows (fols. 15–16).

96.

BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fol. 19.

97.

BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fol. 21.

98.

BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fol. 23.

99.

BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fols. 31–32.

100.

BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fol. 32.

101.

BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fols. 35–45.

102.

Rapley, “‘Un Tresor Enfoui,’” 156–57.

103.

Le Brun, Soeur et amante, 227–29; Rapley, “‘Un Tresor Enfoui,’” 164.

104.

Le Brun, Soeur et amante, 228–29.

105.

Le Brun has noted this in his work on the biographies of female religious (“A corps perdu,” 390).

106.

Elliott, Proving Woman, 8.

107.

BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fol. 31.

108.

BSG, MS 4232, fol. 69.

109.

BSG, MS 4232, fols. 69–75; BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fols. 31–33.

110.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 51. In table 1 I quote the original French in each case to demonstrate the similarity of the passages.

111.

Macek, “‘Ghostly Fathers,’” 231.

112.

Walker, Gender and Politics in Early Modern Europe, 135.

113.

Mostaccio, “Shaping the Spiritual Exercises.”

114.

France witnessed its first antimystical reaction in the mid-seventeenth century. This has been studied by Sophie Houdard in Les invasions mystiques. On the Quietist controversy surrounding the mysticism of Madame Guyon, see Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit; and Bruneau, Women Mystics Confront the Modern World.

115.

Paige, “Enlightened (Il)literates,” 126.

116.

By contrast, some existing studies downplay those differences. See, e.g., Diefendorf, “Discerning Spirits,” 246.

117.

Elizabeth Patton's research on Dorothy Arundell's missing biography of John Cornelius is an interesting example of recovering “lost” texts (“Dorothy Arundell's Acts of Father John Cornelius”).

118.

Paige, “Enlightened (Il)literates,” 129.

119.

Suire, La saintété française.

120.

Copeland, Maria Maddelena De’ Pazzi, 137.

121.

Schutte, “Ecco la Santa!,” 114.

122.

There are particularly interesting examples of this in the spiritual biographies surrounding the Sulpician spiritual director Charles-Louis de Lantages and his lay and religious female directees in Le-Puy-en-Vélay. See, for example, his life of the Dominican Agnes de Langeac: La vie de la vénérable Mère Agnez de Jésus. This received some treatment in Lierheimer, “False Sanctity and Spiritual Imposture.”

123.

Gimaret, “Savoir lire le corps de l'autre.”

124.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon, anonyme,” fol. 91.

125.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon, anonyme,” fol. 91.

126.

The veneration of unofficial saints continued despite the decree. See Burke, “How to Be a Counter-Reformation Saint,” 51.

127.

Madame Teste is mentioned as present in AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon par sa nièce,” fol. 173.

128.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon, par sa nièce,” fol. 173.

129.

AN, 399/AP/5, “Vie de Mlle de Lamoignon, par sa nièce,” fol. 174.

130.

The bodies of saints were said to emit a pleasant fragrance known as the “odor of sanctity.” The phrase also had a figurative meaning as a general “air” of sanctity (Graziano, Wounds of Love, 80).

131.

BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fols. 160–61.

132.

Eire, From Madrid to Purgatory, 377.

133.

BSG, MS 4232, fol. 472, “charité le plus heroique”; cf. BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fol. 161.

134.

BSG, MS 4232, fols. 465–66.

135.

Marsollier's transcription can be compared with BNF, MS Fr. 14342, fols. 156–57, in which Madeleine's own words are compressed.

136.

BSG, MS 4232, fol. 464.

137.

Strasser, “Clara Hortulana of Embach,” 42.

138.

Mazzonis, “Female Idea of Religious Perfection,” 398.

139.

Burke, “How to Be a Counter-Reformation Saint,” 55–56.

140.

Eire, From Madrid to Purgatory, 407.

141.

BSG, MS 4232, fol. 3.

142.

Nicholas Schapira, who has explored manuscript circulation and readership in the life of Michel de Marillac, finds evidence for a “communauté de lecteurs” (“Les lecteurs de La vie de Michel de Marillac”).

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