In the early modern period, Basque women who could not or did not want to follow the traditional paths of monasticism or secular marriage had a third option. They could become seroras, or celibate laywomen licensed by the diocese and entrusted with caring for a shrine or parish church. Seroras enjoyed significant social prestige and their work was competitively remunerated by the local community; yet despite their central place in the local religious life of the early modern Basque Country and Navarre, the seroras have attracted almost no historical study. The purpose of this article is twofold: first, it summarizes the social and spiritual context that allowed for women to experiment with the more unorthodox religious vocations like that of the seroras; and secondly, it draws from extensive primary documentation concerning the seroras in order to outline the main features of the vocation, by extension differentiating them from better-known categories of the semi-religious life such as the beguines, Castilian beatas, or Italian tertiaries.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Religious studies