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The Hazards of Conversion: Nuns, Jews, and Demons in Late Renaissance Italy

  • Tamar Herzig


Female monasticism and the conversion of the Jews were both major concerns for the ecclesiastical establishment, as well as for Italian ruling elites, after the Council of Trent (1545–1563). Hence, the monachization of baptized Jewish girls acquired a unique symbolic significance. Moreover, during this period cases of demonic possession were on the rise, and so were witchcraft accusations. This article explores a case from late sixteenth-century Mantua in which Jewish conversion, female monachization, demonic possession and witch-hunting all came into play in a violent drama. Drawing on unpublished documents as well as on chronicles and hagiographies, the article elucidates the mental toll that conversion and monachization took on the Jewess Luina, who later became known as Sister Margherita. It delineates her life, which culminated with her diagnosis as a demoniac, and analyzes the significance that this etiology held for the energumen—whose affliction was attributed to her ongoing contacts with Jews—and for Mantua's Jews. The article argues that the anxiety provoked by suspicions that a formerly Jewish nun reverted to Judaism was so profound, that it led to the burning at the stake of Judith Franchetta, the only Jew ever to be executed as a witch in the Italian peninsula.



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1 On the importance ascribed to female monasticism in the post-Tridentine era in general see Strasser, Ulrike, “Early Modern Nuns and the Feminist Politics of Religion,” The Journal of Religion 84, no. 4 (October 2004): 538547 . For its manifestation in the unparalleled expansion of women's religious communities in central and northern Italy see Jutta Gisela Sperling, Convents and the Body Politic in Late Renaissance Venice (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1999), 18–29; Sharon T. Strocchia, Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2009), 1–2. On the reinvigorated campaign to convert the Jews in these regions from the mid-sixteenth century onwards see Segre, Renata, “Neophytes during the Italian Counter-Reformation: Identities and Biographies,” Proceedings of the Sixth World Congress of Jewish Studies 2 (1973): 131142 ; Adriano Prosperi, “La Chiesa e gli ebrei nell'Italia del ‘500,” in Ebraismo e antiebraismo: Immagine e pregiudizio (Florence: Giuntina, 1989), 171–183; Peter A. Mazur, Conversion to Catholicism in Early Modern Italy (New York: Routledge, 2016), 18–27.

2 That the refashioning of female monasticism in the Catholic Reformation was associated with the reinforced efforts to bring about the conversion of the Jews is suggested by the concurrent segregation of the Jews and the enclosure of religious women: cf. Mary Laven, Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent (New York: Penguin, 2003), xvii-xx; Stefanie B. Siegmund, The Medici State and the Ghetto of Florence: The Construction of an Early Modern Jewish Community (Stanford: Stanford University, 2006), 13–14. On the overlap in the spatial restriction of Jews and nuns in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italy see also Nicholas Terpstra, Cultures of Charity: Women, Politics, and the Reform of Poor Relief in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 2013), 61, 97.

3 E. William Monter, Witchcraft in France and Switzerland: The Borderlands during the Reformation (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University, 1976), 60. Witch persecutions in Europe reached their peak between 1580 and 1650; see Rita Voltmer, “Witch Hunts,” in Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Western Tradition, ed. Richard M. Golden (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006), 4:1209.

4 The only study that I know of that is devoted to the issue of nuns who were baptized Jews is Alessia Lirosi's article on the convent established specifically for former Jews in post-Tridentine Rome, in which she notes “the lack of specifc studies of the theme of neophyte nuns in other Italian contexts.” See Lirosi, Alessia, “Monacare le ebree: Il monastero romano della SS. Annunziata all'Arco dei Pantani: Una ricerca in corso,” Rivista di Storia del Cristianesimo 10, no. 1 (2013): 162 (my translation).

5 On this current trend in religious history see Marc David Baer, “History and Religious Conversion,” in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion, ed. Lewis R. Rambo and Charles E. Farhadian (New York: Oxford University, 2014), 25–29.

6 Ira Katznelson and Miri Rubin, “Introduction,” in Religious Conversion: History, Experience and Meaning, ed. Ira Katznelson and Miri Rubin (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2014), 1–3.

7 Gentilhuomo/Zentilhuomo (Aminadav) da Norsa is mentioned in “I nomi degli strazzaroli ebrei registrati nella matricola dell'arte tra il 1556 e il 1583” in Aron di Leone Leoni, La nazione ebraica spagnola e portoghese di Ferrara (1492–1559): I suoi rapporti col governo ducale e la popolazione locale e i suoi legami con le nazioni portoghesi di Ancona, Pesaro e Venezia, ed. Laura Graziani Secchieri (Florence: Olschki, 2011), 1:475–476. A document that he signed along with other members of Ferrara's Jewish community is cited in Isaiahu Sonne (ed.), Mi-Paulo ha revi'i ad Pius ha-hamishi (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1954), 229.

8 Federigo Amadei, who relied on late-sixteenth and early seventeenth-century sources that are no longer extant, noted both the neophyte's original Jewish name and her Christian name, as well as her “quarrel” (“lite”), following her conversion to Catholicism, with a certain Gentilhuomo the Jew and his younger relative Josef (Iseppo) in his Cronaca universale della città di Mantova: Edizione integrale, ed. Giuseppe Amadei et al. (Mantua: C.I.T.E.M, 1955–1956), 3:188–189. Gentilhuomo's full name (Gentilhuomo da Norsa) and provenance (Ferrara) appear in the supplication that Josef (Iseppo) Finzi—one of the Jews charged with having caused the demonic possession of the neophyte Luina/Margherita—sent the duke of Mantua on July 1, 1600, busta 3390, S. III (Conversione alla fede cristiana), no. 7, Archivio di Stato, Mantua, Archivio Gonzaga (hereafter ASMt, AG).

9 Shlomo Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua (Jerusalem: Kiryat Sepher, 1977), 26; Mazur, Conversion to Catholicism, 25–26.

10 As noted in Antonio Folcario, Vita della Serenissima Eleonora Arciduchessa d'Austria, Duchessa di Mantova e di Monferrato (Mantua: Francesco Osanna, 1598), 181–182. Eleonora's conversionary zeal is emphasized (167–185).

11 Iotti, Roberta, “Malefiche a Mantova: Judith Franchetta e le altre,” Civiltà Mantovana 114 (2002): 137 . Duchess Margherita had particularly close ties with her brother Vincenzo, who spent much time at the Este court during the 1580s: cf. Iain Fenlon, Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua (New York: Cambridge University, 1980), 1:123–126.

12 On the aid that aristocratic godparents provided female neophytes in their efforts to claim their dowries from their families see Segre, “Neophytes during the Italian Counter-Reformation,” 133–135. Quite a few Jewish girls who escaped from their homes and converted to Christianity in northern Italy took their family's valuables with them to compensate for a lost dowry. One such case is described in a letter sent at the behest of Stella and Elia Caio to Duke Ercole I d'Este on August 21, 1491 (Archivio segreto estense, Archivi per materie: Ebrei, busta 19/A, c. 32, Archivio di Stato, Modena [hereafter ASMo]). An early seventeenth-century Modenese case of this kind is discussed in Katherine Aron-Beller, Jews on Trial: The Papal Inquisition in Modena, 1598–1638 (Manchester: Manchester University, 2011), 174.

13 Cf. Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 188–189. A female convert's “quarrel” with her Jewish relatives—either her father or her brother(s)—inevitably revolved around retrieving her dowry, as Segre, Renata shows in “Il mondo ebraico nel carteggio di Carlo Borromeo,” Michael: On the History of the Jews in the Diaspora 1 (1972): 259 . Since Gentilhuomo (Aminadav) Norsa of Ferrara already had a married daughter (Perna Finzi) in 1600, he must have been Luina's father, and not her brother.

14 On converts from Judaism as “divided souls” who could never completely overcome their Jewish past see Elisheva Carlebach, Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany, 1500–1750 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University, 2001), 115–123, and for (male) Italian neophytes also David B. Ruderman, Early Modern Jewry: A New Cultural History (Princeton, N.J: Princeton University, 2010), 180–186.

15 Josef Finzi is identified as a resident of Mantua in his supplication to Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of July 1, 1600 (busta 3390, S. III, no. 7, ASMt, AG): “Io Giuseppe Finzi Manto[va]no.” In this supplication, Finzi claimed that his wife Perna had returned “to Ferrara, her hometown” (“è stata rimenata a Ferrara, sua patria”).

16 The presents that Josef Finzi gave the neophyte while she still resided in Margherita Gonzaga's palace are noted in the letter that Ascanio Rasi sent Vincenzo Gonzaga on April 17, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG). Rasi refers to the man responsible for Josef's attempts to instigate the convert's demonic possession as Josef's uncle (“barba”). Amadei (Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188), who provides this man's first name, Gentilhuomo, similarly identifies him as Josef's uncle: “Il motivo della strega si fu per impedire alla neofita Margarita che non potesse proseguir certa sua lite contro d'un altro ebreo, nominato Gentiluomo; ed il fomentatore della strega fu un nipote dello stesso, che aveva nome Iseppo.” However, the supplication that Josef Finzi sent Duke Vincenzo from prison on July 1 makes it clear that Gentilhuomo da Norsa was, in fact, his father-in-law and not his uncle. In this supplication (busta 3390, S. III, no. 7, ASMt, AG), Josef explains that his wife Perna had fled from Mantua with the help of her father, Gentilhuomo da Norsa (“Gientilhuomo da Norci heb[re]o suo padre”).

17 Giovanni Battista Vigilio, La insalata: Cronaca mantovana dal 1561 al 1602, ed. Daniela Ferrari and Cesare Mozzarelli (Mantua: Arcari, 1992), 99–100. On Margherita Gonzaga's foundation and subsequent patronage of Sant'Orsola see Cynthia A. Gladen, “Suor Lucrina Fetti: Pittrice in una corte monastica seicentesca,” in I monasteri femminili come centri di cultura fra Rinascimento e Barocco, ed. Gianna Pomata and Gabriella Zarri (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2005), 123–141.

18 Eleonora's efforts to provide marital and spiritual dowries for female converts are emphasized in Folcario, Vita della Serenissima Eleonora Arciduchessa d'Austria, 174–175.

19 See Lirosi, “Monacare le ebree,” 151–152.

20 The Gonzaga's patronage of San Vincenzo in Mantua is discussed in Sally Anne Hickson's book Women, Art, and Architecture in Renaissance Mantua: Matrons, Mystics, and Monasteries (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2012).

21 As noted in Ippolito Donesmondi, Dell'Istoria ecclesiastica di Mantova (Mantua: Aurelio & Lodovico Osanna, 1612), 9:350–352. For Margaret of Austria's desire to become a professed religious prior to her betrothal to Philip III see Magdalena S. Sánchez, “Pious and Political Images of a Habsburg Woman at the Court of Philip III (1598–1621),” in Spanish Women in the Golden Age: Images and Realities, ed. Magdalena S. Sánchez and Alain Saint-Saëns (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1996), 93.

22 Cf. Brian Pullan, The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice, 1550–1620 (Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble, 1983), 269–271; Marina Caffiero, Battesimi forzati: Storie di ebrei, cristiani e convertiti nella Roma dei papi (Rome: Viella, 2004), 22–23; Michele Cassese, Espulsione, assimilazione, tolleranza: Chiesa, stati del Nord Italia e minoranze religiose ed etniche in età moderna (Trieste: EUT, 2009), 55–59; E. Natalie Rothman, Brokering Empire: Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University, 2012), 137–146.

23 In 1627, Cesare d'Este paid the missing sum required for Fiore Sacerdoti's spiritual dowry, “per haver anch'io parte nel merito di porre in coteste Suore la figlia di Salomone Sacerdoti d'Este hebreo fatta Christiana concorro in così buona opera col presente officio, col quale ve la raccomando caldamente, e sentirò particolar gusto, che detta giovine riceva quella consolatione, che merita il suo pio desiderio. Il padre di lei non mancherà di darle qualche aiuto, ma il dover vuole che la pietà de’ Christiani vinca l'affetto d'un giudeo.” Cited in Maria Pia Balboni, Gli ebrei del Finale nel Cinquecento e nel Seicento (Florence: Giuntina, 2005), 83.

24 Ascanio Rasi still refers to her as Margherita (not “Suor Margherita”) in his letter to Vincenzo Gonzaga of April 17, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG), but see the account of the burning at the stake of Judith Franchetti in Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188, in which the chronicler notes Margherita Gonzaga's role in facilitating the neophyte's monachization, and remarks that she was named Margherita in honor of the duchess. Giovanni Battista Vigilio, the contemporary Mantuan chronicler who first reported the case, did not mention the name of the baptized Jewish nun, although he stressed her monastic status (Vigilio, La insalata, 98).

25 Cf. K. J. Lowe, Nuns’ Chronicles and Convent Culture in Renaissance and Counter-Reformation Italy (New York: Cambridge University, 2003), 65.

26 On monastic profession as the ideal kind of “intensification conversion” in the Catholic tradition see David Kling, “Conversion to Christianity,” in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion, ed. Rambo and Farhadian, 614–616.

27 The tendency to impose religious names on novices became increasingly marked after 1500, although it did not form part of the liturgy of the vestition and profession ceremonies. Sharon Strocchia's study of naming patterns in Florentine monastic houses indicates that nuns of patrician nunneries resisted the trend towards imposing new religious names on all members of their communities longer than non-elite convents: see Strocchia, “Naming a Nun: Spiritual Exemplars and Corporate Identity in Florentine Convents, 1450–1530,” in Society and the Individual in Renaissance Florence, ed. William J. Connell (Berkeley: University of California, 2002), 216–226. Even when they did start replacing nuns’ secular names in a more systematic manner in the sixteenth century, prestigious convents occasionally reached compromises with the influential patrons of their communities in selecting religious names that honored their kin (239).

28 Cf. Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188. On other cases of disillusioned converts from Judaism in Mantua and other northern Italian cities see Pullan, The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice, 294–312; Mazur, Conversion to Catholicism, 26.

29 See Marina Caffiero, Legami pericolosi: Ebrei e cristiani tra eresia, libri proibiti e stregoneria (Turin: Einaudi, 2012), 193–199; Laven, Virgins of Venice, 98–100. Jutta Sperling (Convents and the Body Politic, 158, 344n226) has argued that Jews in seventeenth-century Venice were denounced for violating the Tridentine rulings on strict monastic enclosure as frequently as prostitutes were charged with this transgression.

30 Elisabetta Traniello, “Percorsi di donne ebree a Ferrara (XVI secolo),” in Margini di libertà: Testamenti femminili nel medioevo. Atti del convegno internazionale (Verona, 23–25 ottobre 2008), ed. Maria Clara Rossi (Verona: Cierre, 2010), 464–465. Traniello suggests that the nuns, Sister Clemenza and Sister Anfrosina, were baptized Jews.

31 Caffiero, Legami pericolosi, 194–196. Unfortunately, Caffiero does not specify the precise Inquisition records (or other sources) on which her reconstruction of this case is based.

32 Sharon Strocchia recently called attention to the possible connection between forced monachization and suicide attempts in early modern Italian convents. See Strocchia, , “Women on the Edge: Madness, Possession, and Suicide in Early Modern Convents,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 45, no. 1 (January 2015): 5377 .

33 Whereas Jewish men in late sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italy either converted alone or set in motion the conversion of their families (as in Josef Finzi's case, discussed below), their female counterparts often only embraced Christianity following the baptism of their father or husband. See Cristina Galasso, Alle origini di una comunità: Ebree ed ebrei a Livorno nel Seicento (Florence: Olschki, 2002), 116–117; Marconcini, Samuela, “The Conversion of Jewish Women in Florence (1599–1799),” Zeitsprünge 14, no. 3/4 (2010): 534536 . Nonetheless, Sister Margherita was certainly not the only formerly Jewish nun in northern Italy during the post-Tridentine era to have embraced Christianity against her parents’ wishes (for other cases see Segre, “Il mondo ebraico nel carteggio di Carlo Borromeo,” 259; Balboni, Gli ebrei del Finale, 83).

34 As noted in the letters that the nuns of San Vincenzo in Prato wrote about this girl in July 1562, published in Guglielmo Di Agresti (ed.), Santa Caterina de’ Ricci: Cronache–diplomatica–Lettere varie (Florence: Olschki, 1969), 121–122. I am indebted to Sharon Strocchia for this reference.

35 Vigilio (La insalata, 98) points to the proximity of Margherita's monastic profession and the outbreak of her demonic possession, remarking: “una monacha dell'ordine della chiesa di san Vincenzo in Mantova, la quale di già era hebrea et poi fatta christiana entrata nella detta religione. Fatta la professione se ritrovò inspirata.”

36 For some documented German cases of this kind see Carlebach, Divided Souls, 127–129.

37 J. H. Chajes, Between Worlds: Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2003), 1–9, 81, 136.

38 On Ashkenazi see David B. Ruderman, Kabbalah, Magic, and Science: The Cultural Universe of a Sixteenth-Century Jewish Physician (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1988), 55–56.

39 Eliezer Ashkenazi, Ma'asey Adonai (Venice: Giovanni de Garra, 1583), 5a-5b.

40 Gedaliah Ibn Yaḥia, Sefer Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah (Venice: Giovanni de Garra, 1587), 86–87 (פ״ו-פ״ז).

41 On Ibn Yaḥia's life and works see Grossman, Avraham, “Women's Virtues and Superiority in the Works of R. Gedaliah Ibn Yaḥia,” Zion 72 (2007), 3761 . On Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah, see also Eli Yassif, The Hebrew Folktale: History, Genre, Meaning (Bloomington: Indiana University, 1999), 323–324.

42 See Ibn Yaḥia, Sefer Shalshelet ha Kabbalah, 86–87 (פ"ו-פ"ז): "בחדש טבת שנת של"ה בהיותי בפיררה הלכתי לבקש בחורה א׳ בת כ"ה שנים בעולת בעל בחברת נכבדים רבים ומצאתי היותה מוטלת על מטתה פרקדנית והיתה כגוף בלי נשמה ועיניה סגורות ופיה פתוחה ולשונה עבה מאד מן השפה ולפנים. . . אחרי שחליתי לרוח התחננתי מאד לפניו שישיב לשאלותי, השיב בלשון טילאנו בחתוך אותיות נשמע היטב כי שמו היה בעטשה דמידינה אשר נתלה לעונש גניבותיו אשר עשה. . . והיה לו כח להנהיג ולהכריח הבחורה כרצונו כמו שלא תאכל בשר יום ו׳ ויום ז׳ ולעת ערב בתקיעת הפעמון לומר תפלותיהם וענינים כמנהג הנוצרים. שאלתי אליו בתחינה גדולה שיניח הבחורה שוקטת עד אוכל לדבר לה ונתרצה. ובלכתו אל מקומו ראינו גרון האשה שנתעבה מאד, והאשה מקבלת צער גדול בכל אבריה ומתנענעת ומתחלחלת בקושי וזרות נפלא ונותנת רחמנות גדול לכל רואיה. . ." Citation from the English translation in Chajes, Between Worlds, 158–159.

43 On the symptoms that led to an individual's diagnosis as demonically possessed in early modern Europe see Brian Levack, The Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University, 2013), 6–15.

44 Whereas Yagel argued that all possession agents were necessarily demons, this view was not accepted by most Jewish authors, who affirmed that both ghosts and demons could possess the living (Chajes, Between Worlds, 13).

45 A title taken from I Kings 10:17, 21.

46 On Yagel's life see Ruderman, Kabbalah, Magic, and Science, 12–15; for his treatment of the Ferrarese possession case see ibid., 53–56.

47 Ashkenazi, Ma'asey Adonai, 5b: "הגדה מפורסמת מפי אנשים ונשים ומפי עוללים ויונקים והיתה הגדתם בלתי מתחלפת."

48 The Ferrarese girl's possession was described in the writings of the Safed kabbalist Rabbi Hayyim Vital (1542–1640) and in a work that the Amsterdam scholar Rabbi Mennaseh ben Israel published in 1652. See Ruderman, Kabbalah, Magic, and Science, 188–189n47; Chajes, Between Worlds, 135–136.

49 In England and France, accounts of possessions and exorcisms were propagated as part of the confessional campaign against protestantism. In the Italian peninsula, however, they were used primarily for reasserting Christianity's superiority over Judaism: Vincenzo Lavenia, “Possessione demoniaca,” in Dizionario storico dell'Inquisizione, ed. Adriano Prosperi, John Tedeschi, and Vincenzo Lavenia (Pisa: Edizioni della Scuola Normale Superiore, 2011), 3:1244, and see below.

50 Cf. Levack, The Devil Within, 85–93, 154–155.

51 Later cases include that of Sister Maria in Genoa (whose possession and eventual healing in 1609 are discussed below) and of Lea Gaon, who in 1718 was baptized as Alvisa Zambelli in Venice. Zambelli was non-responsive and appeared “absent” during her recurrent fits, later recounting visions in which a frightful figure warned her that her conversion would lead to the damnation of her soul, while other visions assured her that her Jewish acquaintances were the ones destined for hell. Ultimately, she was denounced to the Holy Office, and was subject to an examination to determine whether she was indeed demonically possessed, or rather guilty of simulating sanctity with the tales of her visionary encounters. On her conversion and its mental toll see Adelisa Malena, “I demoni di Alvisa: Il racconto autobiografico di Alvisa Zambelli alias Lea Gaon,” in La fede degli italiani: Per Adriano Prosperi, ed. Guido Dall'Olio, Adelisa Malena, and Pierroberto Scaramella (Pisa: Edizioni della Scuola Normale Superiore, 2011), 1:383–402; Malena, “A Hybrid Identity: Jewish Convert, Christian Mystic and Demoniac,” in Dissimulation and Deceit in Early Modern Europe, ed. Miriam Eliav-Feldon and Tamar Herzig (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 110–129.

52 For an earlier case of mass (as opposed to individual) demonic possession of baptized Jewish girls in Rome, see below.

53 The demonic possession of Cecilia, the daughter of Antonio Guerini, is noted in a notarial act of March 19, 1600 (in busta 2680, ASMt, AG). This document was first noted by Marialuisa Rizzi, in her unpublished tesi di laurea on L'inquisizione a Mantova dal secolo XVI al secolo XVII, Università degli Studi di Trento, 1985–1986, 135–136, 140 (I consulted the copy of this thesis at the Archivio di Stato, Mantua).

54 On the possession of Duke Cesare's daughter, Sister Angela Caterina d'Este of the Clarissan convent of Santa Chiara in Carpi, and on her mother and sister who were also believed to be victims of demonic possession see Lavenia, “Possessione demoniaca,” 1247–1248; Jeffrey R. Watt, The Scourge of Demons: Possession, Lust, and Witchcraft in a Seventeenth-Century Italian Convent (Rochester, N.Y: Rochester University, 2009), 92–99.

55 Adriano Prosperi, Tribunali della coscienza: Inquisitori, confessori, missionari (Turin: Einaudi, 1996; rept., 2009), 403–405; Strocchia, “Women on the Edge,” 59–60, 70–71. Mass possession in female religious communities is considered one of the hallmarks of the post-Tridentine era. On the prevalence and significance of this phenomenon see Sluhovsky, Moshe, “The Devil in the Convent,” American Historical Review 107, no. 5 (December 2002): 13791411 , and now also Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit: Possession, Mysticism and Discernment in Early Modern Catholicism (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2007), 233–264.

56 Guido Dall'Olio, “Convent Cases,” in The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, ed. Golden, 1:215–216; Lavenia, “Possessione demoniaca,” 1244–1249.

57 On the mass possession in Santa Margherita in Bologna see Guido Dall'Olio, “Alle origini della nuova esorcistica: I maestri bolognesi di Girolamo Menghi,” in Inquisizioni: Percorsi di ricerca, ed. Giovanna Paolin (Trieste: EUT, 2001), 81–124. On Santa Grata in Bergamo, in which the demonic incursions only desisted in the third decade of the seventeenth century, see Vincenzo Lavenia, “La lunga possessione: Il caso del monastero di Santa Grata di Bergamo, 1577–1625,” in “Non lasciar vivere la malefica”: Le streghe nei trattati e nei processi (secoli XIV-XVII), ed. Dinora Corsi and Matteo Duni (Florence: Florence University, 2008), 213–242. On the best-documented Italian case of mass possession, that of Santa Chiara in Carpi, see Vincenzo Lavenia, “I diavoli di Carpi e il Sant'Uffizio (1636–1639),” in Eretici, esuli e indemoniati nell'età moderna, ed. Mario Rosa (Florence: Olschki, 1998), 77–139; Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit, 245–246; Watt, The Scourge of Demons.

58 On these cases see Guido Dall'Olio, “Il diavolo e la giustizia: Note sugli usi giudiziari della possessione e dell'esorcismo,” in “Non lasciar vivere la malefica,” ed. Corsi and Duni, 197–212. On Angela Tossignani (or Tussignana) and her diagnosis as a demoniac see now also Craig A. Monson, Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art, and Arson in the Convents of Italy (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2010), 25–62.

59 For the moral ambiguity of the Catholic demoniac see Levack, The Devil Within, 199–202. On the presumed culpability of female energumens in sixteenth-century Italy see also Anna Foa, “Il gioco del proselitismo: Politica delle conversioni e controllo della violenza nella Roma del Cinquecento,” in Ebrei e cristiani nell'Italia medievale e moderna: Conversioni, scambi, contrasti, ed. Michele Luzzati et al. (Rome: Carucci, 1988), 161–167.

60 Cf. Dall'Olio, “Il diavolo e la giustizia,” 212.

61 Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit, 76–77, 87–88; Sarah Ferber, “Demonic Possession, Exorcism, and Witchcraft,” in The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America, ed. Brian Levack (New York: Oxford University, 2013), 589.

62 Cf. Strocchia, “Women on the Edge,” 68–69.

63 Donesmondi, Dell'Istoria ecclesiastica di Mantova, 352–353: “Pur di quest'anno medesimo [1599] lasciò la presente vita, per vivere gloriosa in Cielo, la venerabile suor Marcella de’ Passini, la quale dedicatasi a Christo nel Monastero di Santa Paola, visse in tutto il corso di sua vita con sì perfetta resignatione di se stessa . . . e dal demonio in una sua gravissima infirmità fù più volte visibilmente in varie forme travagliata, per indurla alla disperatione, ma da Dio aiutata, sempre lo superò.” On Margaret of Austria's visit to San Vincenzo and Santa Paola in Mantua see ibid., 351. Like San Vincenzo, Santa Paola was favored by the Gonzaga family and many of its members were daughters of noble families (Hickson, Women, Art, and Architecture, 94–97, 114). On Ippolito Donesmondi see Bernardo Tanucci, Epistolario, vol. 1: 1723–1746, ed. R. Coppini, L. Del Biano, and R. Nieri (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1980), 435fn4.

64 Rizzi, L'inquisizione a Mantova, 135.

65 Cf. Iotti, “Malefiche a Mantova,” 138.

66 Ariel Toaff (who erroneously identifies Luina/Margherita as a nun of San Francesco in Mantua) affirms that the neophyte's alleged possession consisted of her return to the Jewish fold, referring the readers to Giovanni Battista Vigilio's chronicle as the source for this assertion: Ariel Toaff, Il prestigiatore di Dio: Avventure e miracoli di un alchimista ebreo nelle corti del Rinascimento (Milan: Rizzoli, 2010), 231. Although Vigilio (La insalata, 98) neither specifies the nature of the nun's possession nor designates her as a relapsed Jew, Ascanio Rasi's letter of April 17, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG), which points to the nun's ties with Josef Finzi, does suggest that Sister Margherita had originally been suspected of reverting to Judaism.

67 Ascanio Rasi's letter to Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of April 17, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG): “[D]el effetto seguito in quel modo di Josef con la Margherita, quale per se stessa descrive gli accidenti immediatam[en]te seguiti, come l'usò la collana di capelli maleficata, che tutti denotano effetti di vero maleficio, secondo che dalli scrittori di questa materia viene dedotto in esempli, e confirmato dalla sperientia.”

68 Ibid.

69 Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188, and see n. 16 above.

70 In 1603 one of the ducal officials informed Vincenzo Gonzaga that he had not yet arrested the daughters of a suspected witch named Anna, because there was nowhere to put them in the Mantuan prison, which was entirely full (Rizzi, L'inquisizione a Mantova, 147–148). For the idea of witchcraft as hereditary and on the suspicions that often fell on the daughters of accused witches see Diane Purkiss, The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations (New York: Routledge, 1996), 146; Lyndal Roper, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University, 2004), 173–174, 228, 244–246.

71 The charges brought against Josef Finzi, Jacob Fano, and Judith Franchetta (but not against her daughter Ricca) are noted in Ascanio Rasi's letter to Vincenzo Gonzaga of April 17, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG). The notarial act of March 19, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG) affirmed that the judges appointed by Duke Vincenzo “procedino tutti virilmente, et con ogni rimedio di ragione, contro la Judith Franchetta hebrea, Ricca sua figliola et Jacob da Fano hebrei, al p[rese]nte distenuti priggioni imputati di mallie, et d'haver fatto spiritar christiani come da processi contro loro formati appare.”

72 Cf. Iotti, “Malefiche a Mantova,” 139.

73 Rasi's letter to Vincenzo Gonzaga of April 17, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG).

74 As noted in the decision signed by Alessandro Donesmondi, the president of Mantua's ducal senate, on April 20, 1600 (in busta 2680, ASMt, AG): “Havendo noi veduti li processi formati contro la Judith Franchetta, Josef Fincio et Jacob di Fano hebrei, imputati di maleficii, et diligentemente quelli considerati . . . stando la gravità dei dellitti, et le cose fatte rissultante . . . devono li sovrascriti essere condennati nella pena . . . de maleficii, la quali è dell'ult[imo] supplizio col fuogo.”

75 The duke's consent to deferring the public execution of Finzi and Fano is noted in Rasi's letter of April 17 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG). Finzi referred to the postponement of his punishment in his supplication to the duke of July 1, 1600 (busta 3390, S. III, no. 7, ASMt, AG). As for Fano, on July 1 his death sentence was commuted to service in the galleys (Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188, and see below).

76 As reported in Vigilio, La insalata, 98–99: “fu abbuciata viva la Iovadith Franchetta . . . Al quale spettacolo vi fu presenti il detto serenissimo signor nostro, madama Elleonora [de’ Medici] sua moglie, la serenissima Margarita duchessa di Ferrara et la serenissima arciduchessa d'Austria Anna Catherina, sue sorelle, venuta d'Ispruch . . . et tanta quantità et moltitudine de persone che tutta la detta piazza era talmente piena che non vi si poteva volgere, onde fu giudicato non vi esser manco de dieci et anco dodeci milla persone” (English translation cited from Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 33). See also Adriano Prosperi, “Franchetta, Judith,” in Dizionario storico dell'Inquisizione, ed. Prosperi, Tedeschi, and Lavenia, 2:619. On Vigilio's service as minor official of the Mantuan duke see Dean's, Trevor review of the 1992 critical edition of La insalata in European History Quarterly 24, no. 4 (October 1994): 611612 .

77 Tamar Herzig, “Witchcraft Prosecutions in Italy,” in The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft, ed. Levack, 250.

78 Stefano Davari, Cenni storici intorno al tribunale della Inquisizione in Mantova (Mantua: Adalberto Sartori Editore, 1973), 38, 70; Andrea Del Col, L'Inquisizione in Italia: Dal XII al XXI secolo (Milan: Mondadori, 2006), 581. On the 1595–1603 witchcraft trials in Mantua see also Rizzi, L'inquisizione a Mantova, 122–149; Fornari, Luciano, “Pazzi e luoghi della pazzia a Mantova nel Settecento,” Civiltà Mantovana 133 (2012): 103115: 104–105; Iotti, “Malefiche a Mantova,” 136–142.

79 Giovanni Romeo, Inquisitori, esorcisti e streghe nell'Italia della Controriforma (Florence: Sansoni, 1990), 32–33, n. 24, 44, n. 50. It is noteworthy that Franchetta, Finzi, and Fano were not tried by the Holy Office but rather by a special tribunal appointed by the duke: see Pier Cesare Ioly Zorattini, “Ebrei in Italia,” in Dizionario storico dell'Inquisizione, ed. Prosperi, Tedeschi, and Lavenia, 2:525. Since 1587, the authority of the tribunals of the Holy Office gained precedence over other courts in the prosecution of magic in the Italian peninsula. Nonetheless, civil magistrates continued to claim jurisdiction over cases involving maleficia, which continued to be considered as crimes within the jurisdiction of either ecclesiastical or lay authorities (mixti fori) well into the eighteenth century. See Vincenzo Lavenia, “‘Anticamente di misto foro’: Inquisizione, stati e delitti di stregoneria nella prima età moderna,” in Inquisizioni: Percorsi di ricerca, ed. Paolin, 41–53.

80 Anna Foa, “The Witch and the Jew: Two Alikes that Were Not the Same,” in From Witness to Witchcraft: Jews and Judaism in Medieval Christian Thought, ed. Jeremy Cohen (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1997), 361–374. The increasing ecclesiastical disapproval of Kabbalah and other types of text-based Jewish magic, in which men rather than women were usually involved, is discussed in Caffiero, Legami pericolosi.

81 For cases of Jewish women accused of magical healing, love magic or other kinds of sorcery in early modern Italy see Oscar Di Simplicio, “Il processo contro Finitia detta la Sciabacca, strega ebrea (Pitigliano, 1666),” in Le inquisizioni cristiane e gli ebrei: Tavola rotonda nell'ambito della conferenza annuale della ricerca (Roma, 20–21 dicembre 2001) (Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 2003), 431–445; Anna Foa, “Gender e ‘superstizione’: Donne ebree e cristiane nel dibattito sulla superstizione,” in Le donne delle minoranze: Le ebree e le protestanti d'Italia, ed. Claire E. Honess and Verina R. Jones (Turin: Claudiana, 1999), 179–190. Jewish men seem to have been suspected of meddling in illicit magic more often than their female counterparts were: cf. Aron-Beller, Jews on Trial, 21–22, 43, n. 43; Edward Goldberg, Jews and Magic in Medici Florence: The Secret World of Benedetto Blanis (Toronto: University of Toronto, 2011); Toaff, Il prestigiatore di Dio. Nonetheless, no male Jew is known to have been publicly executed for witchcraft in Italian lands.

82 Anna Foa, “Stregoneria ed espulsione degli ebrei: Spunti ed appunti per una ricerca,” in Ebraismo e cristianesimo in Italia tra ‘400 e ‘600: Confronti e convergenze, ed. Luca Baraldi, Tamar Herzig, and Gabriella Zarri, special issue of Archivio italiano per la storia della pietà 25 (2012): 35–53.

83 Vigilio, La insalata, 98: “la Iovadith Franchetta, hebrea d'anni 77 incirca, per essere striga over per haver magliato molte et diverse persone in vitta [sic] sua et specialmente una monacha dell'ordine della chiesa di san Vincenzo in Mantova, la quale di già era hebrea et poi fatta christiana entrata nella detta religione.” I have slightly modified the partial English translation in Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 33.

84 On Amadei—a clergyman and local historian who served as secretary to Don Giovanni Gonzaga (the illegitimate son of Mantua's last duke)—and the manuscripts that he consulted at the Mantuan archive see Intra, G. B., “Degli storici e dei cronisti mantovani,” Archivio storico lombardo 5 (1878), 403428: 420–421.

85 Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188: “Giuditta Franchetti, ebrea, in età di anni 77, strega processata e convinta d'avere, durante la stagione del mietere del'anno 1698 [but clearly referring to 1598] affaturata con una treccia di capelli e resa indemoniata una zitella, per nome Margarita, stata per lo avanti ebrea col nome di Luina, ma poi battezzata e presa in Corte dalla serenissima Margarita Gonzaga, Duchessa vedova di Ferrara, per opera della quale fu in seguito monacata nel convento di S. Vincenzio di Mantova.”

86 The lock of hair with which Franchetta allegedly caused Margherita's possession is mentioned in several studies that discuss her burning at the stake. See Vittore Colorni, “Fatti e figure di storia ebraica Mantovana,” La rassegna mensile di Israel, ser. 2, 9: 5/6 (1934–1935), 218–239: 236; Rizzi, L'inquisizione a Mantova, 138; Iotti, “Malefiche a Mantova,” 139; Fornari, “Pazzi e luoghi della pazzia,” 105.

87 Charles Zika, “Hair,” in The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, ed. Golden, 1:467–468.

88 Cf. Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit, 67; Ferber, “Demonic Possession, Exorcism, and Witchcraft,” 588–589.

89 Watt, The Scourge of Demons, 57, 67–68, 89, 131–132. For other late-sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italian cases in which the discovery of strands or locks of hair in a woman's possession was perceived as evidence for her meddling in illicit magic see David Gentilcore, From Bishop to Witch: The System of the Sacred in Early Modern Terra d'Otranto (New York: Manchester University, 1992), 221; Jonathan Seitz, Witchcraft and Inquisition in Early Modern Venice (New York: Cambridge University, 2011), 37, 68, 113–114.

90 On the occasional conflation of the categories of the demoniac and the witch from the 1590s onwards see Levack, The Devil Within, 202–206.

91 On the witchcraft scare in Bitonto see Romeo, Inquisitori, esorcisti e streghe, 155–159; Rainer Decker, Witchcraft and the Papacy: An Account Drawing on the Formerly Secret Records of the Roman Inquisition, trans. H. C. Erik Midelfort (Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 2008), 108–111.

92 For the anxiety that a neophyte's relapse to Judaism provoked throughout the premodern era see also Katznelson and Rubin, “Introduction,” 5.

93 Segre, “Neophytes during the Italian Counter-Reformation,” 135–142; Kenneth R. Stow, Catholic Thought and Papal Jewry Policy, 1555–1593 (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1977), 3–17; Stow, , “The Papacy and the Jews: Catholic Reformation and Beyond,” Jewish History 6:1/2 (1992), 257279 . Anna Foa (“Il gioco del proselitismo,” esp. 155–169) rightly stresses the continuous ambivalence of the ecclesiastical establishment towards the Jews notwithstanding the reinvigorated efforts to augment the number of converted Jews in the second half of the sixteenth century.

94 Cf. Pullan, The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice, 294–312.

95 Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit, 22; Lavenia, “Possessione demoniaca,” 1244.

96 Foa, “Il gioco del proselitismo,” 160–164.

97 Jean Bodin, On the Demon-Mania of Witches, trans. Randy A. Scott with an Introduction by Jonathan L. Pearl (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2001), 109: “Cases of people possessed and assailed by the Devil are encountered very often in Italy. Almost all are women and one must restrain them as frenzied and deranged maniacs. In fact there were eighty two of them in Rome in 1554 that a monk from France tried to exorcise; but he was not able to achieve anything. The next day the devils when asked why they had possessed them, answered that the Jews had sent them into the bodies of these women (who were mostly Jewesses) angry, they said, at the fact that they had been baptized. Consequently, the Pope who mortally hated the Jews, would have banished them, if a Jesuit had not argued that men did not have power to send the Devil into a person's body.”

98 Foa “Stregoneria ed espulsione degli ebrei,” 46–47.

99 Lavenia, “Possessione demoniaca,” 1244. On the theatrical dimension of early modern exorcisms see Levack, The Devil Within, 141–153.

100 Vigilio (La insalata, 98) referred to Judith's burning at the stake as a “spettacolo”, and Amadei pointed to the singularity of her public execution: Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188: “una giustizia non più vedutasi nel bel mezzo della piazza” (emphasis added).

101 See David Nirenberg, Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages (Princeton, N.J: Princeton University, 1996).

102 The stabilizing function of ritualized violence directed at the Jews in post-Tridentine Italy is discussed in Foa, “Il gioco del proselitismo,” 155–169. On the conversionary sermons that Mantuan Jews were forced to attend in the 1590s see Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 32fn116.

103 Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188: “Accadette che le funi delle mani si abbruciarono subito, onde la strega con una mano procurava ripararsi dalle fiamme e soffiava in esse con la bocca, quasi sperasse d'estinguerle; ma finalmente pagò la pena dell'empietà sua, rimanendo a poco a poco consunta dal fuoco.” See the similar account in Vigilio, La insalata, 99: “mentre si abbruciò la fune con la quale haveva legato le mani, et con la man destra si faceva diffesa dal fogo alla faccia, sofiando anco con la bocca, ma poco gli valse perché incontinenti se ne caddi nelle fiamme et così finì sua vitta” (translated into English in Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 33).

104 Franchetta's burning at the stake is often regarded as the turning point in the Gonzagas’ previously benevolent attitude towards the Jews. Two years after he had approved her death sentence, Duke Vincenzo ordered the creation of a ghetto in Mantua (Prosperi, “Franchetta, Judith,” 619; Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 32- 44). Nonetheless, Vincenzo Gonzaga continued to employ Jews in his court in subsequent years, as noted in Valeria Finucci, The Prince's Body: Vincenzo Gonzaga and Renaissance Medicine (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 2015), 18.

105 Cf. Alison Rowlands, “Witchcraft and Gender in Early Modern Europe,” in The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft, ed. Levack,459–461; Roper, Witch Craze, 160–178. On the stereotype of the elderly female witch see Agrimi, Jole and Crisciani, Chiara, “Savoir médical et anthropologie religieuse: Les représentations et les fonctions de la vetula (XIIIe-XVe siècle),” Annales ESC 48, no. 5 (September-October 1993), 12821303 .

106 Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 416fn289, 711fn120. For the registration of all the books in Jewish hands in Gonzaga lands see ibid., 32–33fn116.

107 Vigilio, La insalata, 99: “doppo d'essergli datto il fuogo di trei [sic] hebrei che la confortavano, duoi se ne fugir[no] et il terzo, quale era vecchio et tanto intento al suo officio, f[u] quasi per restar con essa lei nelle fiamme (sì come saria), quando dalli altri duoi non fosse stato tirrato al basso” (translated into English in Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 33). See also Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188: “tre rabbini in vicinanza la confortavano a sofferire la morte; ma nello accendersi del fuoco, due d'essi se ne fuggirono, tirando seco a forza anco il terzo, il quale diceva di volersi lasciar abbruciare in di lei compagnia.”

108 Ascanio Rasi's letter to Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of April 17, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG): “per la negatione della Juditta con tanta persistentia nella corda, con ferri a piedi, e torcia accesa alle gambe, e cosce.”

109 In 1481, the Brescian humanist Ubertino Pusculo (1430–1504) described the torturing of the Jewish woman Brunetta (Brünnlein) by placing lighted charcoal on her feet, noting her surprising resistance to such excruciating pains for a long time until finally, “touched by God,” she confessed the supposed involvement of her husband and his fellow Jews in the ritual murder of Simonino of Trent. See Ubertino Pusculo, Duo libri Symonidos. De Iudaeorum perfidia. Quo modo Ihesum Christum crucifixerunt, divos Ricardum Parisiensem, Symonem Tridentinum afflixere martyrio sup[p]liciaque dedere, published (with English translation) in “On Everyone's Lips”: Humanists, Jews, and the Tale of Simon of Trent, ed. Stephen Bowd and J. Donald Cullington (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2012), 207–209. I thank Shai Zamir for this reference.

110 Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188: “Parimenti il giorno primo luglio fu condannato alla galera in vita un allievo della maledetta strega, per nome Jacob Fano, anch'esso ebreo, il quale con frutta affattuchiata data a mangiare a don Nicola de’ Federici, cherico di S. Barbara, lo aveva reso ossesso e pieno di spiriti infernali.”

111 Levack, The Devil Within, 16–17.

112 See Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit, 261–263.

113 Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:188.

114 Duke Vincenzo's father, Guglielmo I Gonzaga (1538–1587), had initiated and closely supervised the construction and elaborate decoration of Santa Barbara. Guglielmo was solemnly buried in this basilica in 1587, and Vincenzo Gonzaga replenished it with important relics in 1599 (Donesmondi, Dell'Istoria ecclesiastica di Mantova, 351–354). For the Gonzagas’ patronage of Santa Barbara see Fenlon, Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua, 1:81–117; Dixon, Graham, “Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610: ‘della Beata Vergine’?,” Early Music (August 1987): 386389 ; Swain, Elisabeth, “Faith in the Family: The Practice of Religion by the Gonzaga,” Journal of Family History (Summer 1983):179 .

115 See especially the following statement in Ascanio Rasi's letter to Duke Vincenzo of April 17, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG): “che non accade questo nel pretino . . . del quale si deducono alcuni accidenti, che possono essere indifferenti alli effetti naturali diffettivi di sanità di mente, e di corpo. Si che non inferiva necessariam[en]te il maleficio; oltre che (se bene mi ricordo havere visto nel suo processo o in altro modo saputo) il Pretino s'era rapacificato con Jacob, e pativa prima alquanto delli accidenti medesimi, ma alquanto meno”.

116 Rizzi, L'inquisizione a Mantova, 145–149; Iotti, “Malefiche a Mantova,” 140. Accused witches who perished in the course of their incarceration are not included in the statistics of the early modern witch-hunts’ victims. However, in the Italian peninsula alone twenty nine suspected witches are known to have died before the end of their trials in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, not including the unnamed woman who passed away in Mantua's jail in 1600 and many others, whose death is elided in the historical record (cf. Herzig, “Witchcraft Prosecutions in Italy,” 254–255, 258).

117 Fano, who was first imprisoned before March 19, 1600 (as noted in the notarial act of that date in busta 2680, ASMt, AG) spent more than three months in Mantua's prison.

118 Finzi's letter of July 1, 1600 is summarized in Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 71fn223, but since Simonsohn was not aware of this case's connection to Sister Margherita's demonic possession, he remarked that “the charge on which he [Josef Finzi] was sentenced to death is not known.”

119 In addition to Ascanio Rasi, Francesco Rasi and Francesco Fontanella certified the authenticity of Josef Finzi's letter of supplication to Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of July 1, 1600 (busta 3390, S. III, no. 7, ASMt, AG).

120 Cf. Ascanio Rasi's letter to Vincenzo Gonzaga of April 17, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG): “Concludo perciò, che ambidui [Finzi and Fano] sono degni di qualche indulgentia da V. A. S., massime ch’è suo proprio l'usare clementia (e di già l'universale resta apagatissi[m]o della severa executione della donna).”

121 Josef Finzi's supplication to Vincenzo Gonzaga of July 1, 1600 (busta 3390, S. III, no. 7, ASMt, AG): “Al nome di Giesu Cristo, e della Gloriosa Vergine Maria, e di S. Fra[nces]co, mio devoto particolar, electo in questa santissima vocatione, che per mezzo suo, come credo, è piaciuto alla Divina misericordia far di me infrascritto, per levarmi dalle tenebre, e pormi nella via di goder l'eterno, e divino splendore, Amen. Considerando Io Giuseppe Finzi manto[va]no, per l'adie[r]no heb[re]o, esser stato chiamato a questo santissimo lavacro del Batesimo che Domenica prossima, cioè alli 2 di luglio, per celeste gratia, spero ricever in S[an]ta Barbara per via delle Carcere, over per mia buona sorte leggendo le vite dei santi, benché heb[re]o, fui fatto degno delle Divine inspiratione non una ma cento e mille volte, sendo piaciuto al Ser[enissi]mo et Clementissimo S[igno]r Duca di Mant[ov]a, et Monferato differir[e] l'executione della mia morte, alla quale la Giustitia m'haveva condenato, finché fussi fatto degno, e giudicato habile, e disposto a questo santissimo Batesemo.”

122 See Pullan, The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice, 271–272; Segre, “Neophytes during the Italian Counter-Reformation,” 132; Aron-Beller, Jews on Trial, 165.

123 Caffiero, Battesimi forzati, 80, 111–198.

124 Josef Finzi's supplication to Duke Vincenzo of July 1, 1600 (busta 2680, ASMt, AG): “lasciai d'offerirli anco un'altro figlioletto lattante sotto la cura di sua madre mia moglie chiamata Perna, perché fusse mezzo a far anco batezzar la d[et]ta mia moglie, parendomi scorger in lei buona dispositione a q[ues]to per i raggionamenti altre volte fra noi havute, ma sendomi riuscita fin qui vana questa mia speranza, poiché da Gientilhuomo da Norci heb[re]o, suo padre, è stata rimenata a Ferrara, sua patria, conducendo anco seco detto mio fig[lio]lo, senza mia saputa e, con grandissimo mio dispiacero [sic], parendomi esser privo, e levatami la faculta di farlo Batezzar, sicome è sempre stato il mio intento, vengo con questa scritura di mia man composta a far q[ues]ta dichiaratione che, per tutta l'autorità datami dalle leggi Divine et humane, e della natura stessa, massime volendolo indrizar nella vera via della salute.”

125 Donesmondi, Dell'Istoria ecclesiastica di Mantova, 374: “Liberamente riprese i peccati, che in Mantova diceva commettersi, come n'era avisato, & in particolare circa gli hebrei, che troppi ve ne fossero in Mantova. . . ch'alcuni di loro andassero da donne christiane, & altri facessero delle stregarie.” On Cambi see Adriano Prosperi, “Cambi, Bartolomeo,” in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1974), 17:92–96. His virulent incitement of the Mantuan populace against the Jews and its tragic aftermath are discussed in Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 33–39 (for his reputation as an experienced exorcist see p. 35).

126 Vigilio, La insalata, 98: “se ritrovò inspirata et per gratia di nostro signor Ihesu Christo poi liberata.”

127 Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit, 39–49.

128 ([Anon.], Vita della beata Maria Vittoria Fornari Strata fondatrice dell'Ordine della Santissima Annunziata detto le Turchine (Rome: Bernardino Olivieri, 1828), 45–46, 78–80. See also Rossana Urbani and Guido Nathan Zazzu, The Jews in Genoa, vol. 1: 507–1681 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), lxxiii.

129 [Anon.], Vita della beata Maria Vittoria Fornari Strata, 79: “e già si parlava di far entrare qualche sperimentato Sacerdote per esorcizarla. Maria Vittoria temendone le conseguenze, non fu di questo sentimento.” On the growing critique of exorcists from the 1590s onwards see Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit, 86–93. For the association of an exorcist's presence with the spread and aggravation of possession cases in female religious communities see also Lavenia, “Possessione demoniaca,” 1284; Watt, The Scourge of Demons, 132–137; Levack, The Devil Within, 154–155.

130 [Anon.], Vita della beata Maria Vittoria Fornari Strata, 80: “si risvegliò così bene ristabilita, che non ebbe più alcun assalto di quelli crudeli dolori, che l'avevano per sì lungo tempo, e tanto violentemente tormentata.”

131 Paolo Bertelli, Catalog entry no. 9 in Osanna Andreasi da Mantova, 1449–1505: L'immagine di una mistica del Rinascimento, ed. Renata Casarin (Mantua: Casandreasi, 2005), 142.

132 Osanna Andreasi, Lettere e colloqui spirituali, ed. Gianni Festa and Angelita Roncelli (Mantua: Casandreasi, 2007), 239–240: “[U]na fiata io era [sic] andata in uno certo monasterio di donne e quelle poverelle avevano una sore indemoniata e loro credevano fusse altre infirmitade. E volendola menare ad me cridava: ‘Non voglio andarli! Non voglio andarli!’, ma constretta da le altre fu condutta a la mia presenza e subito diventò mansueta e io abraciandola e basiandola fu liberata. E per questo rispetto il demonio da poi mi ha fatte molte insidie e mi ha dato diverse tribulazione in molte cose, e fatti grandi strepiti per casa a ciò mi spaventasse.”

133 On this painting and its provenance see Bertelli's catalog entry in Osanna Andreasi da Mantova, 134–143.

134 Hickson, Women, Art, and Architecture, 1–7.

135 Cf. Gabriella Zarri, “Living Saints: A Typology of Female Sanctity in the Early Sixteenth Century,” in Women and Religion in Medieval and Renaissance Italy, ed. Daniel Bornstein and Roberto Rusconi (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1996), 246–247, 295n175.

136 Simon Ditchfield, “La beatificazione di Osanna Andreasi nel suo contesto,” in Osanna Andreasi da Mantova, 1449–1505: Tertii praedicatorum ordinis diva, ed. Gabriella Zarri and Rosanna Golinelli Berto (Mantua: Casandreasi, 2006), 146.

137 Donesmondi, Dell'Istoria ecclesiastica di Mantova, 370–371. On the promotion of Andreasi's cult at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries see Gabriella Zarri, “Osanna da Mantova ‘rivestita alla moderna’: Riscritture agiografiche tra la fine del Cinquecento e il Settecento,” in Osanna Andreasi da Mantova, ed. Zarri and Golinelli Berto, 95–97.

138 Cf. Sluhovsky, Believe Not Every Spirit, 236–237. On the contribution of the dissemination of information about demonic possession to the spread of the phenomenon see also Levack, The Devil Within, 156.

139 Vigilio, La insalata, 98.

140 The Jews in northern Italy certainly strove to dissuade their coreligionists who pondered the option of converting to Christianity. They tried to assist those who attempted to prevent the offering of their children (or grandchildren) to the Catholic faith by their baptized relatives, and occasionally also helped baptized Jews to flee in order to revert to Judaism. In addition to Gentilhuomo da Norsa's aforementioned role in hiding his daughter Perna to prevent her son's baptism, see the cases discussed in Aron-Beller, Jews on Trial, 163–183; Mazur, Conversion to Catholicism, 26.

141 Amadei, Cronaca universale della città di Mantova, 3:646: “cominciò l'Università giudaica degli Ebrei a pagara la guardia de’ cavalleggeri del Duca, e ciò in pena di varie loro ribalderie . . . Costoro più d'una volta ebbero la petulanza di soffocare taluno d'essi loro che bramava di farsi battezzare; ultimamente poi avevano traffugata una zitella ebrea per lo stesso motivo. Ma la Duchessa Reggente fece fare ricerche esatte e la ritrovò, sicchè indi con pubblica pompa fu battezzata, indi la collocò nel monistero di S. Vincenzio.” See also Stefano Gionta et al., Il fioretto delle croniche di Mantova (Mantua: Per Giuseppe Ferrari, 1741), 121–122: “1643 . . . cominciò l'Università degli Ebrei a pagar la Guardia degli Arcieri del Duca, in gastigo d'aver fatti segretamente morire alcuni de’ suoi, che desideravano di esser battezzati; ed ultimamente aveano trafugata anche una zitella ebrea, la quale poi rinvenutasi per comando della Duchessa Regente, fu indi battezzata con solennità, e si monacò in S. Vincenzio.” The tax that both chroniclers link to the Jewish community's role in hiding the Jewish girl had actually been imposed before 1630, and was not a punishment for their involvement in hindering her conversion to Christianity, as noted in Simonsohn, History of the Jews in the Duchy of Mantua, 70–71fn223.

142 Cf. Raffaele Tamalio, “Maria Gonzaga, duchessa di Monferrato e di Mantova,” Dizionario biografico deli Italiani (Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2008), 70:201–203.

143 Gionta et al., Il fioretto delle croniche di Mantova, 122.

144 On the reasons for the relatively long life of many enclosed nuns in early modern Italy see Judith C. Brown, “Everyday Life, Longevity, and Nuns in Early Modern Florence,” in Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, ed. Patricia Fumerton and Simon Hunt (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1999), 115–138.

Support from the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 389/15) has made this research possible. An earlier version was presented at the University of Toronto workshop, “Women in Early Modern Medical Science: Professional Practice and Social Boundaries,” February 2015. The author wishes to thank John Christopoulos, Moshe Sluhovsky, Sharon Strocchia, Nicholas Terpstra, and Shai Zamir for their helpful comments and suggestions.

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Church History
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