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Ten years after she passed away

On the 24th December 2003 Romana Guarnieri died. Ten years have passed, but those who had the fortune to know her will never forget her open smile, bright blue eyes and especially the great intellectual and spiritual passion that was accompanied by an unlimited generosity.

Romana was a true child of her time: born in Holland to an Italian father and a Dutch mother who separated when she was young. She was raised by atheist and theosophist grandparents. She arrived in Italy as a young girl - her mother had married for the second time, this time to an Italian architect - trying to find a way to hold together parts of a complex and difficult identity. She began in this way to study the Italian echoes of Brabant spirituality, from a scholarly point of view without religious involvement, up until the moment when by chance she met Don Giuseppe De Luca, which began a fruitful intellectual and spiritual collaboration which leads to her conversion. From here she follows the decision to dedicate her life to chastity and to the study of spirituality: “For the uninitiated I am a Beguine, one of those that eight or nine centuries ago had much to do with bishops and inquisitors, those who wanted to be saints, who unleashed demons . " Like the Beguines who she studied with such passion, Romana lives in the world, does not enter into any religious order, but shares her home and her passions with those who she loves, whether Catholic or not. In recent years, also with the family of her Sri Lankan caretakers.

Until the death of De Luca she works closely with his intellectual enterprise, then she becomes herself the heart of important meetings, with Catholics and Communists as Tronti, with feminists such as Luisa Muraro, all contributors to the magazine that was born from these unpredictable exchange of ideas, "Bedlam" (from number 23 of December 1998 we publish excerpts taken from the article From Hadewych to Hadewych). Her constant love, the focal point of her research, has always been the popular Beguines of Brabant, to whom she felt bound also by the community of life.

Her knowledge of Flemish languages made her rediscover the great mystic and poet Hadewych of Antwerp, from whom she translated poems and works, but above all it helped to establish the attribution of a manuscript found in the Vatican Library - The Mirror of Simple Souls - of a Beguine condemned to the stake, Marguerite Porete, an attribution that changed not only the history of mysticism, but also that of Western philosophy, due to the great influence exercised, in an obivious but not confessed way, of Porete on Meister Eckhart. Romana was therefore a pioneer of historical studies on women, and she supported them with great passion, continuing also to take an interest in those women whom she called the "Italian Beguines", such as Angela of Foligno.

With her warm enthusiasm she also addressed these studies to priests who had a passion for history, with whom she often kept contact for decades, bonds of a spiritual kind, in which she was the guide and teacher. And today “women church world” greets in her a founder ante litteram.

of Lucetta Scaraffia




St. Peter’s Square

Feb. 24, 2020