Between Exaltation and Infamy: Female Mystics in the Golden by Stephen Haliczer

By Stephen Haliczer

At some point in 1599, within the Spanish village of Saria, seven-year-old Maria Angela Astorch fell in poor health and died after gorging herself on unripened almonds. Maria's sister Isabel, a nun, got here to view the physique together with her mom stronger, an ecstatic mystic and visionary named Maria Angela Serafina. triumph over via the sight of the lifeless girl's blameless face, Serafina started to pray fervently for the go back of the kid's soul to her physique. getting into a trance, she had a imaginative and prescient during which the Virgin Mary gave her an indication. immediately little Maria Angela began to convey symptoms of lifestyles. A second later she scrambled to the floor and was once quickly restored to excellent health.

During the Counter-Reformation, the Church was once faced via a unprecedented upsurge of female non secular enthusiasm like that of Serafina. encouraged by means of new translations of the lives of the saints, religious girls far and wide Catholic Europe sought to mimic those "athletes of Christ" via extremes of self-abnegation, actual mortification, and devotion. As within the center a while, such women's piety usually took the shape of ecstatic visions, revelations, voices and stigmata.

Stephen Haliczer bargains a complete portrait of women's mysticism in Golden Age Spain, the place this enthusiasm was once approximately a mass stream. The Church's reaction, he indicates, was once welcoming yet cautious, and the Inquisition took at the activity of winnowing out frauds and imposters. Haliczer attracts on fifteen instances introduced by means of the Inquisition opposed to ladies accused of "feigned sanctity," and on greater than dozen biographies and autobiographies. the main to reputation, he reveals, lay within the orthodoxy of the woman's visions and revelations. He concludes that mysticism provided girls the way to go beyond, although to not disrupt, the regulate of the male-dominated Church.

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89 But even as the prophets dispersed, Philip IV could take comfort in the fact that he had already found a mystic to advise him and intercede with God on his behalf. 90 Already known for her writings, María de Agreda had gained the king’s confidence at their very first meeting on June 10, 1643. 92 Accepted at the highest levels of Spanish government, mysticism had come of age by the middle of the seventeenth century. Moreover, the fact that both the count-duke and the king had placed their trust in women mystics indicates that traditional ideas about women’s emotional weakness and excessive vulnerability to demonic manipulation had given way to a new respect, even admiration, for the achievements of feminine spirituality.

After the king died, this “perfect wife” devoted herself to good works and joined the Franciscan third order. The move to canonize her began as a strictly Portuguese affair as she was beatified with the support of Joao III in 1525 and her cult was extended to all of Portugal under Sebastiao I during the middle years of the sixteenth century. In 1612 members of the Portuguese aristocracy, led by the bishop of Coimbra, visited her tomb and opened the casket. Incredibly, after 276 years they found the body to be uncorrupted and emitting a sweet odor, thereby convincing everyone present of the “rare, supernatural and miraculous” quality of everything that they had witnessed.

A wealthy widow had left the statue to the convent of Discalced Carmelites in Ubeda, where Gabriela was a nun, and almost as soon as it arrived Gabriela took charge of adorning it. One day, when the convent was passing through a period of extreme necessity, a woman brought three beautiful carnations to the door. ” Then, raising her voice, she ordered Gabriela to present the flowers to the statue, ask it to send the convent some wheat, and bring its response back to her. Gabriela went to the statue, laid the flowers before it, and told it about the convent’s needs.

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