Benedetta Carlini

Posted on October 28, 2010


Made the Abbess of the Convent of the Mother of God in Pescia when she was 30, Benedetta Carlini began having visions that men were killing her. The sisters of the convent, concerned that she was being possessed by demons, had her confined to a cell with a certain Sister Bartolemea to accompany her.

The visions became less violent and Sister Benedetta was no longer confined. She continued to have visionary experiences, however, which brought her to the attention of papal authorities who during the time of the counter-reformation, were concerned about any signs of spirituality that could be seen in any way as challenging the status quo.

In their investigations, when they questioned Sister Bartolemea she revealed that she had been having sex with Sister Benedetta, during which the two experienced Sister Benedetta’s visions together. Sister Benedetta was immediately removed from her post as Abbess, and spend the rest of her life – 35 years – in solitary confinement. She died in 1661 at the age of 70.

Benedetta Carlini has a page on Wikipedia, here. Judith Brown’s book Immodest Acts: the Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy focuses on Carlini, and it is available on Amazon, here.