Tuesday, February 16, 2010

To The Thirteenth Century. Hagiography. Women Who Led.

The Thirteenth Century.
Women who led. 
 From Hagiography, or Biography of Venerated or Ideal Persons 
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Saints, a Ruler, Movers
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The Thirteenth Century was an age of women leaders; or women whose impact was huge even if not in leadership positions.  Why does it matter that women excelled? Ask instead why was their impact suppressed. Get an overview of the panorama of women in religious history until the 1300's - especially, see the Dictionary of Saintly Women, Volumes I and II, from 1904-05, cited here.  On and on. Where is a comparable Dictionary of Saintly Men?  Must look and compare.  Here from the 13th Century, the last of them, meet
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I.  Elizabeth of Thuringia
II. Margaret of Hungary
III. Spirandia of Cingoli
IV.  Hedwig of Poland; and
V.  Hedwig (Jadwiga) of Poland, King   Yes, King.
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Others:  See Christian Reconstructionists Against Women, at
http://www.politicususa.com/en/christian-against-women
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See also this research paper by a student, but a fine overview of even more women who excelled, in the 13th and surrounding centuries, see Reu, Sung Hyun, Korean Minjok Leadership Academy, 2009, term paper for a medieval history class,
http://www.zum.de/whkmla/sp/1112/sunghyun/sunghyun1.html.  Find
  • Sister Clare,
  • Kristin Lavransdatter,
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine,
  • Rose of Burford 14th C,
  • Hildegarde of Bingen 1098-1179,
  • Empress Matilda as contender for the English throne,
  • Blanche of Castile 1187-1251, of course
  • Joan of Arc,
  • Lady Alice Knyvet,
  • Christine de Pizan 1363-1429 [see her critique of the romantic Roman de la Rose],
  • Jimena in El Cid's life,
  • Rebecca in "Ivanhoe",
Why do I see no American student term paper on this topic of women who excel, who are autonomous? Why does the omission matter? It matters because they are role models lost to present girls and women; and because it shows fear of the potential of those ideologically deemed inferior, and who are not.
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Repeat. Routine omission of women from male history matters because it shows fear. There was fear of what the Thirteenth Century meant in religion, politics. Women in that age in theological institutions and civic life were were independent of parallel male institutions of the time. They asserted autonomy. That was intolerable. 
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The context:  See this for a start:  The Contours of Female Piety in Later Medieval Hagiography (what is that?) at a journal article by Michael Goodich at http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=LhQf5gpWJvkSFlkhTms42hZpp00fVhW7y5xRGv7jMNWqyQt9pMSk!-1196327867!1517079229?docId=96511290/
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Naming names:  Note the many full saints here. There were so many women saints, that the Church feared losing its penocentricity. That would be intolerable to the ideologues.
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I. Elizabeth of Thuringia - 1207-1231.  Franciscan.
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Elizabeth was a princess from Hungary, betrothed at age 4 to Louis, heir to the ruler of Thuringia, and raised there in the future husband's household, see painting of the wedding feast at http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/catalogue/sk-a-3145.html.
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That fiance dies, and Elizabeth became betrothed to a younger brother, Ludwig IV, and marries him.  See Princess Saint at http://digilander.libero.it/raxdi/inglese/index4.htm.  She lived at Wartburg Castle, Germany, also famous because Martin Luther stayed here.  Ludwig appears as "Louis" in other accounts.
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She and Louis - Ludwig were married in 1221. She had three children (another account, see below, says four),and the marriage appears to be a happy one.  She was attracted to the teachings of an ascetic in 1225  (the Franciscan Riidiger, or Roger?), who is strict, engaging in self-mortification (bodily deprivation, punishments) in seeking humility and patience. She becomes dedicated to the cause, Louis joins in and both give aid to lepers, the poor, for social justice says the site. She works miracles. Bread turns to roses in her arms. Then or meanwhile, Ludwig takes up the cross as a crusader and goes to Palestine. Elizabeth is left in charge of the domain.  The whole thing. The woman in charge. Louis died in 1227.
Elizabeth continued to help the poor and sick, there was famine, smallpox and plague.  Administrators and relatives disapproved, fearing depletion of the estates.  She was forced out, abandoned on the streets, and entered a convent under Abbess Matilda of Kitzinger.  She joined the Franciscans as a Tertiary (living under chastity, obedience, simplicity; the first two orders live under celibacy, obedience and poverty, a more stringent set of standards, see http://www.cb1.com/~john/Religion/tertiary.html/.
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She maintained her long practice of caring for the sick, founded a hospital with her remaining dowry money, distributed food. Self-sacrifice, love of mankind. And she forced or shamed the in-laws and relatives to bring Louis' body back for proper burial.
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Of interest: Elizabeth of Thuringia successfully bucked the 1% of her time, at least partially.
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Third Order Franciscan.  There was no order, as we understand it, for women apart from the men, no Sisters of St. Francis.  Is that so? Need to find medieval differences in convent and monastery, and when each began.  The Franciscans did not become established until 1221, so there may not be much available for Elizabeth's time.  Were women in their own orders, but not under the aegis of a men's group. Autonomous.  Not answerable to them.
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Elizabeth still had dowry money, and starts another (or was this the same one) hospital, also continuing to engage in self-mortification. She had no direct influence on the powers of the day once widowed, yet she was canonized as a full saint in 1235 over the obstructionist tactics of the Bishop of Mainz who had had a run-in witih Louis. See http://www.mun.ca/mst/heroicage/issues/10/bio2.html/.
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Do we have the details right?  Her 800th anniversary celebration is set out at http://www.elisabethjahr.erfurt.de/html/04_das_elisabethjahr_in_thueringen/4_01_eng.html/  Details of homage at http://www.travelgermanyinenglish.com/saintelisabethofthuringia.html/
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There are more and more sites once Google decides they are relevant. I prefer my own searches usually, but this one I would not have found:  See 1904, Volume 1 of the 2-part ebook Dictionary of Saintly Women, by Agnes Baillie Cunninghame Dunbar published by G. Bell, London. This work is a huge undertaking. At the ebook site, click on the contents icon.  Or search for Elisabeth, find this entry, among others
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Differences: 
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In this Dictionary of Saintly Women account, there is no ascetic or Franciscan that influences her or her husband, the Duke Louis; she tends that way on her own when her husband is away.  And she was expelled from Wartburg after Louis husband died, and had to live in dire straits until other relatives found her a castle, and restored her to a higher station.  This account also does not have Elizabeth in charge when Louis leaves, but rather he recommends her and the four children to the care of his mother and brothers.
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II.  Margaret of Hungary - 1242-1270 or so.  Dominican.
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Margaret of Hungary was also a princess, an ascetic. When the Tatars were stopped, her parents dedicated her before she was born to a convent, sisters who were Dominican (not under a male Dominican group, but autonomous, we understand), and later they built her her own convent.
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In those days, convents operated on their own, not under a male order as was later required when the convents were more successful than the monasteries.  Is that so?  Hers. 
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Ask about this medieval practice of early conventing of little children, and their later asceticism. To those of us on the outside, this is less theology and inspiration than early training - see the mistreatment of Elizabeth, the punishments of the ascetic teaching self-mortification in the section above. Does that get absorbed, that suffering is her due. Experts, what say?  Look at religious groups that raise little girls to be plural wives. 
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Brainwashing? Salvation or marketing? See plural wives FLDS, Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints 
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Now:  look at an early source,  A Dictionary of Saintly Women, Margaret of Hungary, vol 2 of 2, at page 19 from 1905: a google book
There it says
"Her parents built her a monastery, at Buda, on the island in the Danube afterwards called in honor of her St. Margaret's Island."
It is now a park, a garden.  See http://www.aviewoncities.com/budapest/margaretisland.htm.  The original institution was not designated as a "convent" but a "monastery".  Were there no "convents" just for women at that time? 
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Buda would have been a wise choice for a monastery. Location, location.  This was the site where missionary St. Gellert in the 11th Century was hurled off a cliff.  Buda is the hilly side of the Danube, where Budapest now straddles it.  Pest is the flat side.. Trams like Pest.
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 It looks from a quick research that there were not convents at the time - all were monasteries - and Margaret was the Abbess there.  Same word, monastery. No hierarchy of male monasteries supervising (as happened later) female convents.
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Margaret undertook the worst, most squalid tasks, with self-immolation included, causing great amazement.  She had no, and was required to have no, supervision, no strong-minded superior. 
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She displayed piety, and a human touch, see http://www.katolikus.hu/hun-saints/margaret.html/  There were ecstasies and miracles, but the kind of restrained witness testimony that lends credence where otherwise one would think fantasy. She died suddenly, and the beatification was not then completed, although many depositions of witnesses, still available, were taken.  As a woman, she was not put on the fast track.  She was finally beatified in 1943.  Her cult had been approved in 1789, so she was never out of mind.  Her strong following did not give up.
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Willful, even imperious.  She made things happen her way.
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III. Spirandia of Cingoli -1216-1276.  Benedictine
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Beata Spirandia or Spirandea was known for her visions, see http://www.lifeinitaly.com/religion/incorruptibles.asp/  and miracles, see this text advertised for sale about them, at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/search?style=oac4;titlesAZ=l;idT=8b722a34239eb18ebe0674038a9aef0b/.  When she was sainted,  her body did not disintegrate as do the rest of ours, and she rests with other "incorruptibles" at Cingoli, Italy, the Benedictine Convent, see http://www.sacred-destinations.com/sacred-sites/dead-on-display.htm/  She has been exhumed some eight times, the last time to check on her was 1952, and there was said to be an "odor of sanctity" about her.  A "sweet fragrance".
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The Incorruptible.
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Saints bodies' incorruptible? Why do some bodies hold up and others rapidly decay?  Find a Top 10 at http://listverse.com/2007/08/21/top-10-incorrupt-corpses/.  Are there any explanations rather than miracle?
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Others are baffling: remaining moist, flower (rose) fragrance, free of decay and science and reason know not why, see Speroforum. 
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" *** In 1265 she built in Cingoli, the monastery of St. Michael, of the Institution of BB. Spirandia and Santuccia, and there she presided with wonderful piety until her death. She was illustrious for her mortifications and visions, and for her admonitions to persons whose faults could only be known to her through miraculous revelation. ***
This from A Dictionary of Saintly Women, vol 2 of 2, at page 231, from 1905: a google book.
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So:  Spirandia both built and ran the place.  She "presided with wonderful piety."  No male supervision? No order above hers, overseeing? No.  Why should she?
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With that fine resource and detail, we are going to look back in the Dictionary of  Saintly Women at Elizabeth and Margaret.  Margaret's section is at page 19:  Elizabeth must be in Volume 1. Yes, there she is. 
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Saint Hedwig of Poland  1174- 1243   Cistercian 
(at the Abbey, and in dress, but never took the vows?)
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 Why Did The Role of Women in Religion Stop after the 13th Century?
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It did, didn't it. 
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Who Ordered It?
 Hedwig is known in Polish as Jadwiga, or Hedwig of Silesia. Hedwig of Kalisz is different. We are starting here with the Dictionary of Saintly Women, see link above, because there is so much more there than at any Roman Catholic or other site we find.  Here, at Volume I, at page 262 (copy and past entire URL from St. Elizabeth above, also in Volume I).  It looks like her niece is that same St. Elizabeth.  Is that so?
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Hedwig was schooled at a monastery in Kitzingen (the same as received Elizabeth of Thuringia?) then moved from the convent school -- and that distinction suggests a blending in one place of the two ideas, a monastery and a convent.  She married at age 12, husband Henry Duke of Silesia and Poland, had 5 children.  Then she decided to live the rest of her life as a celibate, and Henry agreed to it.  No forcing her, no assertion of conjugal rights. She made up her own mind.  And the bishop ratified their mutual vow of chastity. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1720315/posts
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 The two only met thereafter to manage their family and responsibilities; and Henry never cut his beard thereafter, becoming known as Henry the Bearded.  Funny thing. No mention of St. Hedwig as his wife.
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They lived in "perfect amity". They established, soon after they were married, a Cistercian monastery of Trebnitz, north of Wroclaw, Poland, and set up Cistercian nuns to establish its order (again this blending) and it also is called a nunnery as well as a monastery, nuns of the Order of Citeaux, defined as Cistercian.
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Theirs was a partnership. They set up many religious houses and churches.  They dealt jointly with large and small troubles with children's rivalries, battles, terrible Tatar invasions. Upon the death of Henry the Bearded, Hedwig continuing her ministrations to the diseased and the poor, self-deprivation (think barefoot and chilblains).
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She was canonized in 1266.
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Be careful in research.  There are many Hedwigs, see  http://www.katolikus.hu/hun-saints/hedwig.html, but that is of Hedwig of Poland Matron 1399.
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Jadwiga of Poland  1373-1399.
Jadwiga, King from 1384-1399.
Venerated, Beatified late, in the 1980's, canonized 1997
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Different from St. Hedwig who married Duke Henry, above.
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Jadwiga is Polish for Hedwig, and this Jadwiga was was King of Poland in the 14th Century.  She was  King because she was sovereign in her own right and not just a consort, see for a fast overview before digging back into the Dictionary of Saintly Women, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jadwiga_of_Poland /.  Why was she not called "Queen"-- not sure.
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This Hedwig smuggled food out to the poor, there were miracles - once when she was stopped and ordered to show what was in her apron, she let it open and there were roses, not the food. Also other miracles. But this story also appears as to Elizabeth of Thuringia?  Must check.
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Hedwig in the Dictionary of Saintly Women:  at page 366.  Lengthy, lengthy account and many miracles.  So there are two St. Hedwigs in the 13th Century - perhaps more.
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Autonomy, autonomy, autonomy, Important is the ability of the women to make their own decisions, and even this Jadwiga herself chose to marry when she could have received a dispensation because of the childhood betrothal, and miracles after her death.
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Filing cabinet for further lookups
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1. Women as knights, yes, see http://www.heraldica.org/topics/orders/wom-kn.htm
2. Female Orders in the Military
Canonesses Regular of the Holy Sepulchre, at Wikipedia,. These are connected to St. James the Apostle (how?). St. Helena mother of Constantine was given a canoness habit by the Bishop of Jerusalem and he went with her to search for the true cross. 14th C, followed Rule of St. Augustine. Lay sisters of this order were abolished in the 20th C. Symbol is a double-barred cross? Is this one at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriarchal_cross
  • Spain,In1300 the Monastery of the Transfiguration was set up by the Marquesa, Dona Gil de Rada. It became the female branch of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a Jerusalem military order. 
  • There was also knighthood for women: The Order of the Hatchet 1149 in Catalonia, see http://www.heraldica.org/topics/orders/wom-kn.htm and that is an extensive site -- need more time with it. Much seems to focus on their fighting prowess against the Moors, Spain. See also Order of the Garter in England; Order of the Glorious Saint Mary, Bologna, Italy, modern warring, medieval, crusades with women including Orders
  • France - the Canoness house was disbanded during the French Revolution
  • England - Dame Susan Hawley 1622-1706 founded the surviving branch of the canonesses. She established a monastery at Liege, Belgium. Dame Mary Christina Bennet was her successor. See site. School in England also founded by Susan Hawley still in existence.
  • Belgium. See Priory of Sion at Bilzen 1634. It and others were closed in 1798 with the French Republic.  Some remain extant, see the Wikipedia site for a start.
  • OVERVIEWS - "Women Knights in the Middle Ages" -- http://www.heraldica.org/topics/orders/wom-kn.htm

3. Female Orders in the Religious -
4. Dominicans: Dominic aimed to rescue women from heresy - where is that from?
5. Diana of Andalo, Bologna, foundress of Dominican convent 1222. She went to the Augustinians as a young girl, was forcibly returned by her family, and was injured in the process. Jordan of Saxony intervened and persuaded her father to let her have as she wished, a monastery, so the family supported her and a staff for Dominican Priory near Bologna. That site pesters with a popup for a needy cause, but skip the popups. This is common information so I won't even give the site.
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6. Juliana Falconieri, Florence, foundress of Servite Order (dedicated to Mary Virgin, patronized by the Dominicans).  A relic of her is on sale at http://www.antiek.com/objects/?objectid=539265&object=539265
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7. Mary of Cervellone, Barcelona. Foundress of female Mercedarians? or is the reference to Mary in a vision to Nolasco to found the order.  The purpose is to visit, serve, rescue Christians held captive by Moors.  Is that so?  There were female Mercederians, see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10197b.htm.  They took a fourth vow, to substitute themselves for a captive, see http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Mercederians

A site to check further on this, at the library where they subscribe, is The Contours of Female Piety in Later Medieval Hagiography, at  http://www.jstor.org/pss/3166477.  Subscribe? Purchase something I haven't even read?  Knowledge is different from a screwdriver. Let the knowledge out, people. Maybe tax (ha! another one!) each online access, have the govt pay per click rather than keep the world ignorant, as present practice does.
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Mercederians today:  Order of Mercy, Blessed Order of Mary of Mercy from 1218, see http://orderofmercy.org/,  Order of St. Augustine. Order still based on Blessed Mother and the Eucharist. Issue is "Mary". Is the "Mary" we saw as founder, instead the Virgin Mary that appeared to a Peter Nolasco and said she wanted the order?
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The order is only priests and brothers.  Was it always? Apparently so, see http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Mercederians
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Mercederians historically addressed issues of captives.  Mary of Ransom, see http://orderofmercy.org/charism/survey/antecedents/  I am still looking there for reference, any reference, to Mary of Cervellone. Is our information bad, or is the site bad?  They offer a St. Peter Nolasco as the founder, at http://orderofmercy.org/charism/survey/antecedents/.  Is that so?

Yes, at this point, it is ---- Nolasco.

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Mary? give us a sign. Other Catholic sites agree - Nolasco. We are not so interested in ideologically based sites, but in history first as to any involvement of women, not sanitized out for the purposes of ideology. If the ideology then fits the history, ok.  But facts first. At this point, we don't know more. Could it be that the "Mary" of Cervellone refers to a vision of Mary Mother Of, who wanted the order founded?  See http://www.miraclehunter.com/marian_apparitions/approved_apparitions/barcelona/index.html
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8. Order of Preachers - Need info here -- including Nera dea Tolomei (what is this?) and companion Genovese. Women were part of this. What is the site? "Tertiaries" lived in civil life, pursuing heretics and "moral offenders"  Did Elizabeth of Thuringia do this?
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9. Benedictines: need info here

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