Guglielma of Milan (d. 1282)

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Guglielma of Milan (d. 1282)

Leader of a heretical Italian sect. Died around 1282 in Milan; never married; no children.

Guglielma was born and raised in Milan, and as a young woman became the center of a new heretical religious movement about 1271. She was a mystic as well as a prophet, and found numerous supporters for her special calling, especially Mayfreda de Pirovano, who was to become her pope in the new church they wanted to create. Guglielma and her followers believed that she was the embodiment of the Holy Spirit, and her supporters held that only through a woman's intervention, and thus through all women, would humanity be saved. Only women held the position of priest in this sect, whose practitioners came to be known as the Guglielmites. Guglielma was accused by Milanese authorities of heresy and other crimes, but she managed to survive over a decade, gaining more followers every year. The circumstances of her death are unclear.

Laura York , Riverside, California