... What's your feeling about the Virgin Mother?
I reverence her.
Didn't she read books?
Yes, but not these.
What did she read then:
The canononical hours.
According to which use?
Very likely! What about Paula and Eustochium? Didn't
they read the sacred Scriptures?
But that's rare nowadays.
So was an unlettered abbot a rare bird once upon a time! Nowadays nothing's
more common. Once upon a time princes and emperors excelled as much in
learning as in might. But even now this isn't so rare as you might suppose.
In Spain and Italy there are not a few women of the highest rank who can
rival any man. ... If you're not careful, the net result will be that we'll
preside in the theological schools, preach in the churches, and wear your
The Abbot and the Learned Lady. This dialogue was first printed
in the 1524 edition of the Colloquies. 'Erasmus pays tribute here to the
learned women of his age, although one suspects that the heroine, Magdalia,
is introduced for shock value rather than as an exemplary character.'
on women / edited by Erika Rummel. University of Toronto Press, c1996.
to Mary Reading ...