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Forgotten women

The Greeks called her Mnemosyne. She was the goddess of memory, the goddess who kept the memory of human beings active, making them retain whatever she wished. We have chosen to dedicate this issue of women church world to activities which are exactly the opposite of Mnemosyne’s: to the evil art of forgetting, in its historically most frequently practised manifestation, namely the art of forgetting women.

This is an attitude that cuts across absolutely everything: whether it is a question of literature, mystical theology, science, politics religion or religions, whether of lay or of consecrated women, of the past or of today, of Europe or of America, in every epoch and society the crucial and stimulating contribution of so many female voices has been suppressed or ignored, lost. And this has impoverished everyone, women and men alike. As if these voices had never spoken, their contribution has sometimes been appropriated by males, at times it has slipped away without penetrating into our way of thinking and living and at yet other times it has been deliberately crumbled and crushed to make it inoffensive. Because – mirroring the art of remembering – the art of forgetting has been and is susceptible of a large number of variations and nuances, as the stories in this issue demonstrate. .

Not only those of whom we speak here, but more generally all the forgotten women of history are portrayed by our cover picture. Beautiful figurines set as if embalmed on the topmost branches: set up there and painstakingly embalmed in the past, but essentially left there through calculation, opportunism, envy or ignorance. Remembering these women is a first step towards bringing them out of the inertia forcefully imposed on them; it is a timid attempt to unfreeze them and call them back to life so that they can begin to make our lives fertile. And this is naturally only a small sample: the women who have been forgotten are far more numerous and in the future we shall have to dedicate other issues of our paper to them. (giulia galeotti)

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