St Gall, Ideal Monastery Cloister
ame Julian of Norwich, Dom Jean Leclercq OSB, reminds us, likely earned her keep from teaching children their ABC. Such Dame-schools enabled these now literate children to enter choir schools, as at Norwich Cathedral; then, if they became monks, they were part of its 'college', continuing the Benedictine ' School for Prayer ', for all their lives, not in our world of time, but of God's eternity.
Then Archbishop Chancellor Arundel forbade women to teach. At which date the name and occupation of Julian, Anchoress of Norwich, begins to appear in Wills, perhaps so that she could continue to be funded for her writing of the Showing of Love. Like Julian, I live in a graveyard, like Julian I am retired from teaching. At first I thought to carry out this dream of the balancing of work. study, prayer, as Benedict taught, the harmony of body, mind and soul, from my spacious beautiful convent in Sussex . But that dream shattered. Then I fled to Italy and after years of poverty living in one room without heat, on foot, only my computer and books left, the dream improbably came about. I was offered a whole square in Florence, Piazzale Donatello, filled with tombs, called the 'English Cemetery ', though owned by the Swiss Evangelical Church, and its Gatehouse in which had been the studio of Shakespeare's last descendant. This is now the international, ecumenical Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei. Its collections include how to study the Hebrew and the Greek of the Bible, the men and women mystics of the Church, Dante Alighieri, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the Pre-Raphaelites, the Oxford Movement and the Risorgimento, art history and paleography and codicology. These books are on shelves I built myself this past hot August, using handforged brackets shaped like lilied crosses I had made in Settignano copying those of the Bodleian Library.
Next to this library room is the work room. The great laying-out table is at its centre, on it have laid the bodies of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Walter Savage Landor, and many others. It is just the right height for work, for restoring tomb sculpture, for binding books, for marbling paper. Tools and supplies are on shelves around the room, covering these panels of green cloth, this space also used for exhibitions.
Other rooms contain our computers, printers and scanners. From this Florentine Cemetery Gatehouse we continue www.umilta.net From this Gatehouse we plan the International Congresses in Florence, the City and the Book , for May/June 2001, 2002, 2003. From this Gatehouse we created another website, www.florin.ms blending together the Italian and English languages and cultures.
We should like to open this Website's space for learning of the contemplative wisdom of monasteries and anchorholds, rather than through competitive cramming of universities and seminaries. We should like to open these Websites to the concept of Florence as the world's University, with its skilled craftspeople, its learning, its religious structures, its work, study, prayer. We should like to open this Website's space to all desiring it, lay and clergy, women and men, old and young, poor and rich. One Julian Manuscript has a later reader give it a title, 'Of the Knowledge of Ourselves and God', echoing both Julian of Norwich's and Catherine of Siena's texts. Women, barred from universities, were self-taught. But some had access to libraries of books, even if illiterate, like Margery Kempe; in her case these being read to her, 'Talking Books '!
We suggest that you draw up a covenant with us about what you wish to study, recalling that study is a third of monastic life, each of the three parts, work, study and prayer, aiding all the others. Covenant to carry out this study for the love of God and neighbour and your own soul. Covenant to carry out this study with joy, even if part may be drudgery, like learning a language, which then unlocks doors to joy and comprehension. Balance it, too, with handwork, such as binding books, making marbled papers, for our Biblioteca Internazionale Fioretta Mazzei is also what Italians call a 'bottega', a workshop, like those used by Giotto and Michelangelo, who knew how to paint and sculpt and build and bind books and design clothing. Combine work, study and prayer, using and therefore not losing, the body, the mind and the soul.
Some of our hand-crafted marbled paper
We can begin by making some suggestions for such courses of study: Dante's Florence; Julian's Norwich; Paleography and Editing of Manuscripts . A particular project worthy of undertaking could be Augustine, Confessions , Dante Alighieri, Vita Nuova, Julian of Norwich, Showing of Love, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Casa Guidi Windows and Aurora Leigh and/or Cardinal Newman, Apologia pro vita sua, the telling of tales through time, blending together Christendom in Africa, Italy and England and in studying the relationships between Roman and Anglo-Catholicism, between the Risorgimento and the Pre-Raphaelites. For we find this website is about flesh and blood men and women who in turn write books on skin and paper with ink, that we are about human culture, the Internet the next stage in the technology of the book as servant to learning and love. We can publish your papers, your books, your stories, on the web.
In these ways we can deepen our ' Textual Community ', cultivate ever more our Vineyard of the Text , centred on God's Word, and share it with the World and the Web. We also suggest that more valuable than courses of study with content, are skills, like languages, paleography, HTML, as these unlock and open codes of meaning, from the past for the future. My Mother Foundress wrote into our Rule that every Sister should so study at a subject that she showed improvement from month to month, excellent advice against aging and its ills.
We shall use the World Wide Web as well as books, combining the best of the old with the best of the new. For early Christianity, inventing codices, was likewise into far-flung communications. We can also advise with the designing and acquiring of websites, specially recommended for Oliveleaf sharers. Though ours are deliberately and monastically, Quakerly, plain, without flags, not wanting boundaries, and without mechanized java script, instead using the memory technology of medieval texts of alternating colours for capitals and titles.
We suggest that you offer not only to learn but to teach here, for it is in teaching one most learns.
We suggest those studying in individual tutorials or group seminars buy the texts, for instance Dante's Commedia , Julian's Showing. We shall be able to make further books available to you in a Lending Library through the post, as need arises.
We seek Friends and Users of this School and of this Library for the Web. Join us! Membership is through the simplicity of giving this Biblioteca Internazionale Fioretta Mazzei a book, any book, the book you particularly think needs to be found on its shelves for others to read.
And I have a project for you. Our cemetery is filled with inscriptions from the Bible, in Hebrew, Greek, Cyricillic, Roman and fraktura scripts and in many languages, including Romantsch. We need to clean the stones from their lichen, transcribe them and identify the Biblical passages. In this way we shall combine the work of the body, mind and soul in work, study and prayer.
Contact Sister Julia Bolton Holloway Webmistress
Contact Father Father Matthew Naumes Webmaster
of Study, Julian
See also Cloister
as a monastic and free university, ecumenical, international, from
with its own library, both real and virtual, situated in the English Cemetery 's
Piazzale Donatello 38, 50132 Firenze, Italy
OF NORWICH, HER SHOWING OF LOVE AND ITS CONTEXTS ©1997-2010
JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY ||
OF NORWICH || SHOWING
OF LOVE || HER TEXTS || HER
SELF || ABOUT HER TEXTS || BEFORE
JULIAN || HER CONTEMPORARIES || AFTER
JULIAN || JULIAN IN OUR TIME || ST
BIRGITTA OF SWEDEN || BIBLE
AND WOMEN || EQUALLY
IN GOD'S IMAGE ||
OF SAINTS || BENEDICTINISM ||
CLOISTER || ITS
SCRIPTORIUM || AMHERST
AND PORTFOLIO (HANDCRAFTS, BOOKS ) ||
REVIEWS || BIBLIOGRAPHY