The Women Priests of Latisana: Apollonia Madizza’s Path to Salvation

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This paper concerns itself with the accusation of witchcraft against Apollonia Madizza. Apolonia’s imprisonment and escape drew the eye of the Catholic Church, who at the time was investigating accusations of witchcraft and devil worship in the countryside of Friuli towards the end of the Renaissance. This is not a tale of simply witch-hunting a woman who fit all of the descriptors of a witch, but rather a tale of a woman described as “dynamic” and “clever”, which not only was well connected in her small town, but also well connected with nobles in Venice. Trying to unravel the truth from the lies of her story is impossible, but there is much to learn from her story, the possible lies within that story, and the society in which she …show more content…
What he called witchcraft was more like “Popular Christianity”. This Popular Christianity was part of every day life. Here is an excerpt from the reading: “Christianity was not merely a religion of priests, churches, and formal sacraments; it was a religion of daily life intimately intertwining the transcendent with the social and private life of the everyday. And women were its priests.” The church did not agree with this sentiment at all, would rather label these women as practitioners of witchcraft, and Pietro was reflecting those ideas in his observations. This brings us to Apollonia Madizza. Beacause of Pietro’s public accusation, along with several missteps in dealing with rumors and conjecture, Apollonia was incarcerated for witchcraft. She later escaped. When the Holy office started to inquire about possible witchcraft, Apollonia voluntarily came forward to testify. After briefly being questioned about her imprisonment and escape, they switched to what they really wanted to know, asking if there were many women who enjoy making people fall in love how they operate and had she been involved in such things. The importance of the word “enjoy” should not be overlooked here. The Holy Office was looking for women who took a perverse pleasure in such things. By framing it in this way Apollonia saw what they were after and was able to carefully construct an answer that would be truthful, yet hide the fact that magic was being performed.

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