Darleen Pryds, PhD - Franciscan School of Theology
Dr Pryds

Darleen Pryds, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality and History


  • Name: Darleen Pryds, PhD
  • Specialization: Medieval Franciscan Tradition (Third Order, Lay Preaching) and the Spirituality of Dying and Death
  • Email: dpryds@fst.edu
  • Phone: 619-574-5810


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

“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 lay woman 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 personal faith. Her particular focus on lay Franciscans has analyzed the tradition of lay preaching as a form of “Somatic Theology” or theology that is expressed through lived experience. You can find her research in many articles and in two books, The King Embodies the Word: Robert d’Anjou and the Politics of Preaching (2000) and Women of the Streets: Early Franciscan Women and their Mendicant Vocation (2010). Currently, her work explores the often overlooked Franciscan lay leader, Lady Jacopa dei Settesoli. This new avenue of research builds on Dr. Pryds’ active volunteer work as a caregiver in hospice. Her most recent book, Enduring Presence: Diversity and Authenticity among the First Generations of Lay Franciscans, was published December 2018.

You can follow Dr. Pryds on Facebook or on Academia.edu.


Lay Spiritual Practices

Participants explore together with the professor a range of spiritual activities used by lay Christians and look at the historical origins and early developments of them. Pilgrimage, prayer, contemplation, storytelling, fasting, feasting, sexuality and celibacy, festivals and processions are among the practices discussed. The historical and cultural background of these practices 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 leadership roles women have 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. Grounded in the most recent research in this burgeoning field, the class 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 (forthcoming, 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.

“Angela of Foligno, Magistra Theologorum Outside the Universities: A Case of Somatic Theology,” in Her Bright Merits: Essays Honoring Ingrid J. Peterson, OSF. eds. Mary Walsh Meany, PhD and Felicity Dorsett, OSF (St. Bonaventure, New York: Franciscan Institute, 2012).

“Catherine of Siena,” in Routledge Classics in Western Spirituality, ed. Arthur Holder (New York: Routledge, 2009), pp. 172-183.

“Preaching Women: The Tradition of Mendicant Women” in Franciscan Evangelization: Striving to Preach the Gospel, Washington Theological Union Symposiums Papers, 7. (St. Bonaventure: Franciscan Institute, 2008), pp. 55-77.

“Following Francis: Laywomen and the Scandalous Call to be Franciscan,” in Listening 41.2 (2006) pp. 85-95.

“Studia as Royal Offices: Mediterranean Universities of Medieval Europe,” in Medieval Universities in Society, eds. J. Miethke and W. J. Courtenay (Leiden: Brill, 2000), pp. 83-99.

“Court as Studium: Royal Venues for Academic Exercises in Medieval Europe,” in Medieval Sermons and Society: Cloister, City, University, eds. B. Kienzle and J. Hamesse (F.I.D.E.M., Louvain-la-Neuve, 1998), pp. 343-56.

“Proclaiming Sanctity through Proscribed Practices: The Case of Rose of Viterbo,” in Women Preachers and Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity, eds. Pamela Walker and Beverly Mayne Kienzle (Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 159-72.

“Monarchs, Lawyers, and Saints: Juridical Preachers’ Use of Holiness,” in Images of Holiness in Medieval Preaching. Proceedings of the 1995 Sermon Studies Society Conference. eds. Beverly Mayne Kienzle, et al. (Louvain-la-Neuve, 1996), pp. 141-56.

“Clarisses and the House of Anjou: Temporal and Spiritual Partnership in Early Fourteenth-century Naples,” in Clarefest: Word and Image. Selected Papers. ed. Ingrid Peterson (St. Bonaventure, New York: Franciscan Institute, 1996), pp. 99-114.

“Rex Praedicans: Robert d’Anjou and the Politics of Preaching,” De L’Homélie au Sermon. Histoire de la prédication médiévale. Proceedings of the Eighth Sermon Studies Symposium, 9-12 July 1992, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. (Louvain-la-Neuve, 1993), pp. 239-262.


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)