Helwig of Prague (fl. 14th c.)

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Helwig of Prague (fl. 14th c.)

Leader of Beguines in Germany. Flourished in the 14th century in Prague; never married; no children.

A German member of the Beguine religious order, Helwig of Prague was an acknowledged leader of the sect when it was condemned by Pope John XXII in 1332. The Beguines, an order of women devoted to a simple life of supporting themselves without a particular rule, and not subject to obeying Church officials except the pope himself, came under suspicion as heretics for their contrary views and independent lives. Group leaders like Helwig managed the daily activities of their followers without the approval of priests or bishops. Often, it was the independent spirit and self-sufficient attitudes of Beguine leaders like Helwig that brought condemnation as much as any truly heretical or radical theology. After her group was forcibly disbanded, the rest of Helwig's life becomes obscure.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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