“Manlier than Many Men”. Images of Female Sanctity in Simeon Polockij’s Court Sermons
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This article explores the intersection of gender, religion and politics in the construction of female sanctity in Simeon Polockij’s court sermons, in particular in those contained in the Večerija duševnaja collection (‘Spiritual Supper’, 1683). My aim is to investigate the way in which Simeon rewrites enduring and dominant images of female sanctity to suit the cultural needs and expectations of his royal addressees, providing them with spiritual role models and a “trusted authority of their own sex”. In doing this, I will attempt to understand what the women saints in these homilies can tell us about the cultural construction of femininity at the Muscovite court, and what they reveal about the expectations and prescriptions placed upon royal women in the late seventeenth century.