Modern Beguines

Marcella Pattyn (d. 2013) was touted as the “last beguine.” Yet, while researching the history of beguines for my book, The Wisdom of the Beguines, I kept hearing word that there were contemporary beguines, but no one knew where, or who, or how to contact them. Then I heard from two beguines outside Dublin and one from Australia. But nothing more.

 Then--what a gift! I was contacted by Beguine Brita of Fulda, Germany, who is one of the leaders of the German movement of Beguines. She organizes spring tours, and every several years, a fall gathering with scholars. Their goal is to help contemporary beguines understand the roots and history of the beguine movement across Europe. Thus I found myself in Essen, Germany, this October for an international gathering of beguines (I delivered a paper), with about 60 participants. Several of the women had translated my book into German (Die Weisheit der Beginen).  

Sr. Laura, right, with translators

While most of the participants were German, beguines from Switzerland, Ireland, and Italy were also presentWe visited several beguine communities around Essen and Cologne (Köln).

I witnessed similarities and differences. Most were vegetarians, cultivating gardens of flowers and vegetables. They were committed to caring for the environment. They welcomed women with young children into their communities. One community cared for 14 infirm women (several were beguines now needing significant support). All expressed their spirituality through their commitment to justice and women's spirituality; some embraced Celtic spirituality; and many, wounded by the institutional church (whichever variety) were still finding their way toward a common spirituality.

But everywhere I went, these women were gracious, hospitable, and interested in each guest who came to them. I witnessed a movement with great potential. You can learn more about the German expression of beguines at https://www.dachverband-der-beginen.de/startseite

 If you'd like to know more about the history of beguines, there is some information on them at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beguines_and_Beghards and also in my book Wisdom of the Beguines.

Sr. Laura's original Wisdom of the Beguines and German translation

 

 

Comments

  • Comment posted by Sr. Lucy M Wynkoop on October 27, 2023 at 2:11PM (8 months ago)

    Laura, I appreciated hearing about the modern day Beguines and seeing more information about the German Beguines. Thank you for this post. I felt like I traveled with you due to this blog.

  • Comment posted by Janice J. Ariza on October 27, 2023 at 9:10AM (8 months ago)

    This is of great interest to many people. There are international community connections, insights to lifestyles where hospitality and real love are extended to women. It also has your book at the center of it all. Amazing how God plants a seed of interest in us and when pursued, grows into an amazing tree with any branches and leaves. Most Excellent!!

  • Comment posted by S. Monika on October 27, 2023 at 9:10AM (8 months ago)

    So Cool! Thanks for sharing.

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