Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Speaking, Writing and Performing Mary Magdalene in Irish Convents in Early Modern Spain (1499 to 1639)

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2019), 96, (10), 1167–1187.


This article charts how the figure of Mary Magdalene emerged as a central figure within the creative culture, oral and written, of Irish convents in Spain between 1499 and 1639, during the period when Irish female religious settled in Spain and founded their convents. The majority of Irish convents in Spain were Dominican, an order dedicated to an outgoing educational mission. Detailing her centrality to the lives of Irish female religious communities generally, the article explores how Mary Magdalene was used in teaching and entertainment to endorse and commemorate the sacred history and doctrines of the Church and particularly to authorize women’s leadership. Although they were primarily pedagogical in purpose, this study suggests that performances relating to Mary Magdalene in this period specifically celebrate her centrality within the Resurrection narrative and showcase a love, loyalty and faith that surpassed that of the male disciples.

El presente artículo se ocupa de la importancia de María Magdalena en la cultura creativa, tanto oral como escrita, de los conventos irlandesas en España entre 1499 y 1639. En este periodo, monjas irlandesas se afincaron en España y fundaron comunidades religiosas. La mayor parte de estos cenobios pertenecía a la orden dominica, cuya misión exterior era educativa. Este ensayo profundiza en el auge de la Magdalena, cuya figura aparecía tanto en contextos lúdicos como didácticos, en la vida de estos claustros: servía para celebrar la historia sagrada y las doctrinas de la iglesia, pero también para afirmar el papel protagonista de las mujeres. A pesar de su propósito pedagógico, estas representaciones encomian su relevancia en la resurrección y demuestran que su amor, fidelidad y fe eran mayores que los de los discípulos masculinos.

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Author details

Knox, Andrea