The Table
“Il mantello di Ipazia”

“Il mantello di Ipazia”

Leggendaria, an Italian literary magazine, described as “a showcase of intelligent women,” was founded as an independent magazine in 1997, after having existed as a supplement to the monthly Noidonne since 1986. Leggendaria claims to be a tool for critical thinking: “taking the knowledge and experience of women as a privileged point of view.”

Their current issue, 103: “Caro Francesco, parla con noi” features seven women of varying generations, Catholic and non-Catholic, who pose questions to the Pope on the role of women in the Church, the priesthood, and women’s and feminist theology.

Leggendaria devotes attention and resources to images in their printed pages as they attempt to “preserve and transmit the taste of reading on paper,” the olfactory and the visual with the written word, as the … “product of thinking bodies.”

Not surprisingly the cover features a beautiful image by Mathelda Balastresi, the coat of Hypatia, “because there are many questions and issues raised by women who look at the world.” Hypatia, one of the last great thinkers of ancient Alexandria and one of the first women to study and teach mathematics, astronomy and philosophy, would often give public lectures in the city center. Of course Hypatia, as a woman, could not officially take any institutional position, despite her training and expertise, but the symbolism of “Il mantello di Ipazia” endures.

“Caro Francesco, parla con noi” is filled with questions and considerations for the Pope from women who are cautious against a Pope who promotes an open-door Church «la mia porta è sempre aperta» but never to women; who are cautious against «i molti omaggi verbali» or many verbal tributes to the peripheries of society, while women are on the peripheries of society and the Church; and cautious against the invocation of a “theology of women” while theologians are in “a state of marginality on the verge of Apartheid.” However, these women are not cautious about making bold statements, however rhetorical:

“Why, in the language of the priests have I never encountered the terms feminism or feminist unless accompanied by disapproval and suspicion? Why do not you recognize that much has done and is being done for awareness and freedom of women?”

“In this new Church will there be space for homosexuals or transsexuals?”

“What does it means to empower women if you do not open the door to the priesthood?”

Mariella Gramaglia opens with three reflections:  Caro Francesco…

Over here!

To the left, to the left!

  • Why do you not understand that equality and difference are not in conflict with each other? «Guardi, questa è un trappola infernale»  Referring the an interview where Pope Francis said that he would not make women Cardinals, because he did not want to clericalize women, Gramaglia writes that one cannot use a theory of difference to escape the harsh realities of equality. “But you must hurry,” make women Cardinals and heads of congregations as it doesn’t affect dogma or doctrine, and then in time you will see the difference they can make.  But hurry, “it’s like Gorbachev, time is working against you, the American nuns are there to prove it. This is not a question to know but to get.”
  • «Il suo linguaggio è molto bello» Mercy, discernment, margins. «Non so quale di queste parole mi piace di più» but with such beautiful language, Pope Francis can speak about Mary as a male projection of an incomplete woman; as if she is a creature detached from consciousness, or “part of a soul.” Is she not integrated into society? Quoting Meister Eckhart: “I pray to God to free me from God,” Gramaglia says, «Penso intendesse dalle incrostazioni antropologiche dell’immagine del divino. Lo si potrebbe pregare anche per essere liberati dalla Madonna? O è blasfemo?»   (roughly: I think he meant the scaling anthropological image of the divine… could I also pray to be delivered from Madonna? Oh, is it blasphemous?)
  • Here Gramaglia refers to an interview with Pope Francis and Eugenio Scalfari, where the Pope mentions that next time they will speak further about the role of women in the Church. What does «Un anziano patriarca burbanzoso» understand about women in the Church? Look how he treated Barbara Spinelli, Gramaglia reminds Papa Francesco. Since Vatican II the theological expertise of women has multiplied, not to mention that women are thoughtful intelligent beings.  Ascolti Francesco, parli con noi. 

Kate and Erin, WOC Staff

This magazine is a treasure to find here in Rome: dense, thoughtful, and provocative.  I picked up the last copy from one of the few shops that carry it, and tonight will attend a launch of the magazine with many of the contributors. I look forward to sharing themes from the evening and additional article highlights from the magazine here in the coming week.


Read More: Perché siamo alla periferia della Chiesa? «Caro Francesco, parla con noi…»





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