Lucia Brocadelli of Narni

Lucia Brocadelli of Narni
Narni today. Photo: Wikiriello

During his lifetime, Savonarola was highly critical of women mystics, suspicious of their "diabolical" illusions. His defenders argued then, as now, that this was done not just to protect himself against his enemies but to protect these mystics as well. Certainly he inspired many women to join religious houses - it was a society ruled by apparitions and fear of the apocalypse, but it also offered a future to imaginative and devout young women.

The most famous mystic was Lucia Brocadelli of Narni. They never met. But devotees argued that Savonarola deserved the credit for inspiring her stigmata, her blood flowing for Firenze’s sins, and even after his martyrdom, some women mystics claimed he appeared to them in visions. Did these mystics in fact annex Savonarola and use his name to justify their own revelations? After all, in communicating directly with God these women no longer needed the Church. That made them a threat.

There are those who believe she inspired C.S. Lewis: Lucy of Narnia...

Photo: Fortunati Giuseppe

The above is from Narni, Italy. The town at times has been known as Narnia, something Lewis would have been aware of. However, although she was born there and buried there, she is associated equally with Viterbo, where she received her stigmata, and Ferrara, where Savonarola was born and where she spent most of her life, largely discredited and out of sight in a convent.

Below is Albrecht Dürer's famous contemporary sketch of 1508, known as The Praying Hands.

The Albertina, Vienna