Darleen Pryds, PhD

Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality and History



Name: Darleen Pryds, PhD
Specialization: Medieval Franciscan Tradition (Lay Franciscans and the Third Order, Lay Preaching, Mysticism) and the Spirituality of Dying and Death
Phone: 619.574.5810


“Franciscan history has been at the center of my professional and personal life for 30 years, so it is a special privilege for me to be at FST, where my teaching, research, and public outreach can be rooted in the down-to-earth spirituality that Francis fostered in the 13th century.”


Darleen Pryds is a laywoman who has been exploring the Franciscan spiritual tradition since she was 18 as a freshman in college. Since then, she has found her academic research on the lay Franciscan tradition buoys her faith. Her focus on lay Franciscans has analyzed the tradition of lay preaching as a form of “Somatic Theology,” or theology expressed through lived experience. You can find her research in her many books and articles. Currently, her work explores Franciscan Laity as Co-Creators of the Franciscan Tradition and Emotional Range in the Franciscan tradition.


Dr. Pryds serves the greater Franciscan community in many ways. She serves on the Research Advisory Council of the Franciscan Institute (University of St. Bonaventure). For the Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition (CFIT). She is a member of the Executive Board.  she is a sought-after speaker for workshops, retreats, and lectures on Franciscan Spirituality and the Spirituality of Dying and Death. In her spare time, she volunteers as a hospice caregiver.


You can follow Dr. Pryds on


  • PhD University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • MA University of Southern California
  • BA University of Southern California


Lay Spiritual Practices

Participants explore a range of spiritual activities with the professor used by lay Christians and look at their historical origins and early developments. Pilgrimage, prayer, contemplation, storytelling, fasting, feasting, sexuality and celibacy, festivals, and processions are among the practices discussed. These practices’ historical and cultural background brings out new aspects of even the most common of these practices. For example, the act of reading psalms and prayers will be discussed in its medieval mode as a form of body prayer.


History of Women in Religious Leadership

This course explores the rich history of women leaders within the Christian tradition. While some women, especially recently, have been ordained as ministers within their denomination, throughout Christian history, many more women have exercised influence and authority as spiritual leaders without holding official offices. This course honors their contribution to our faith and seeks to uphold the wide range of women’s leadership roles in the Church.


Spirituality of Dying and Death

A student favorite, this class explores the spirituality of dying and death from the Franciscan spiritual perspective. This course is grounded in the most recent research in this burgeoning field. It incorporates both analytical discussion and experiential meditations to explore the subject with both head and heart. Students have called this class “life-changing” and “the most important class I’ve ever taken. I’m no longer afraid to talk about death.” Dr. Pryds offers one-day workshops and short-term classes on the subject for the public.

Select Publications


Enduring Presence: Diversity and Authenticity among the First Generations of Franciscan Laity (St. Bonaventure, N.Y.: Franciscan Institute Publications, 2018.)

Women of the Streets: Early Franciscan Women and their Mendicant Vocation (St. Bonaventure, New York: Franciscan Institute, 2010).

The King Embodies the Word: Robert d’Anjou and the Politics of Preaching (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2000)



Plunged in an Ocean of Sadness: Reflections on the Role of Death and Grieving in Experiences of Conversion of Lay Franciscan Women” Magistra (2021)

“What Shimmers within the Storm: Grieving and Franciscan Spirituality” Franciscan Connections/The Cord (2020).

“‘Conforming himself to the poor:’ Laity as Co-Creators of the Franciscan Tradition” Franciscan Studies 77 (2019): 31-51.

“Can Franciscans be Angry? Francis of Assisi and the Trap of a Mono- Emotional Saint,”  Franciscan Connections/The Cord (June 2018): pp. 2-6

“The Spirituality of Presence: The Story of Jacopa and Francis,” in Franciscan Connections—The Cord (June 2015), pp. 38-39.

“Lady Jacopa and Francis: Mysticism and The Management of Francis of Assisi’s Deathbed Story” In Death, Dying and Mysticism: The Ecstasy of the End, eds. Thomas Cattoi and Christopher Moreman (Palgrave, 2015), pp. 15-34.

“Franciscan Lay Women and the Charism to Preach,” In Franciscans and Preaching: Every Miracle from the Beginning of the World Came about through Words, ed. Tim Johnson, (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 41-57.


Lecture Recordings

The Spirituality of Dying and Death. Lecture Series (Now You Know Media 2015)

The Christian Life: Exploring Lay Spiritual Practices (Now You Know Media, 2016)


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