After an introductory general essay on the life cycle and status of women in Byzantine society, this volume focuses on female religious life, with particular emphasis on the role of convents - as spiritual sanctuary, refuge for women in need, or provider of charitable services. Several essays compare Byzantine nunneries with male monasteries, pointing out the relatively small size and lack of intellectual and artistic activity in convents, and more rigorous rules of enclosure and stability. Such phenomena as double monasteries, the conversion of a monastery to a nunnery, and women's economic and spiritual ties with Mount Athos are also examined. Other articles investigate issues of female sanctity and sanctification, analyzing types of women saints, women during the era of iconoclasm, and the role of the family in promoting the cult of a holy woman. In addition there are studies on healing shrines in Constantinople in the middle Byzantine and Palaiologan periods, and the resurgence of hagiographical writing in the late Byzantine era, particularly the reworking of the vitae of older saints.
Contents: Preface; Women and the Religious Life: Women; Byzantine women, saints' lives and social welfare; Women and iconoclasm; Women and Mt. Athos; Empress Theodora Palaiologina, wife of Michael VIII; Sanctity and Hagiography: Female sanctity in Byzantium; Family cults in Byzantium: the case of St. Theodora of Thessalonike; The posthumous miracles of St. Photeine; The Byzantine cult of St. Photeine; Old wine in new bottles: the rewriting of saints' lives in the Palaeologan period; Monasticism: An introduction to Byzantine monasticism; A comparison of the monastic experience of Byzantine men and women; The Byzantine family and the monastery; Healing shrines in late Byzantine Constantinople; Nunneries: Women's space in Byzantine monasteries; Affirmative action in the 13th c.: an act of John Apokaukos concerning the Blachernitissa Monastery in Arta; Late Byzantine nuns: by choice or necessity?; Bluestocking nuns: intellectual life in the convents of late Byzantium; Indexes.