mystical women

MYSTICS: Brigid of Kildare—Queen Of The South

May 6, 2014

From The Spirituality of the Celtic Saints, by Richard J. Woods Known as “Mary of the Gael,” Saint Brigid of Kildare (ca. 450 – 525) is one of the most beloved of saints.  Her first biography was written in the seventh century, long after any reliable historical information had been displaced by tales of her remarkable powers and career, largely, it would seem, the product of the undeniable admiration in which she was held. Cogitosus and Ultán identify her father as Dubnthach, a pagan noble of Leinster.  According to Cogitosus, her mother, Brocseach (or Brocessa), the daughter of Dalbronach, was of noble parentage, while Ultán and the later Latin Lives claim that Brocseach was a slave in the household of Dubhthach. [...]

MYSTICAL WOMEN: The Pilgrim—Margery Kempe by Joan M. Nuth

September 14, 2013

From God’s Lovers In An Age Of Anxiety: The Medieval English Mystics Then they went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  The friars lifted up a cross and led the pilgrims about from one place to another where our Lord had suffered his pains and his passion, every man and woman carrying a wax candle in one hand.  And the friars always, as they went about, told them what our Lord suffered in every place.  And this creature wept and sobbed as plenteously as though she had seen our Lord with her bodily eyes suffering his Passion at that time.  And when they came up on to the Mount of Calvary, she fell down because she could not stand or kneel, but writhed and wrestled with her body, spreading her arms out wide, and cried [...]

MYSTICISM: Saint Teresa of Ávila — The Ironic Doctor by Francine Prose

January 12, 2013

From A Tremor of Bliss: Contemporary Writers on the Saints Irony is not the quality we associate first with the saints. Seen from this distance, and with the modernist’s double vision, their lives appear to us to have been rich in ironic and playful incident and detail.  Consider the vegetarian Nicholas of Tolentino, who, on being forced to eat a pigeon stew, caused the cooked birds’ feathers to regrow, the sauce to flow like blood in their veins, until the revivified pigeons fluttered their wings and flew out the window; or Saint Datius, who exorcised a haunted house by mocking the devil for making the sounds of ghostly animals in the night.  Let us think of Saint Ansovinus, who embarrassed a stingy innkeeper with a miraculous [...]

TERESA OF ÁVILA: Quixote’s Madness by Colin Dickey

November 22, 2012

From Afterlives of the Saints Lost in the limitless labyrinth of books is Teresa.  Born in March 1515 in Avila, she was born for reading and as a young girl read incessantly: “I do not believe I was ever happy if I had not a new book,” she writes in the opening of her autobiography.  She learned this love from her mother, who was fond of chivalric romances and always made time for her children to read.  Teresa’s father disapproved, thought it a waste of time, a corrupting of his children’s minds.  Teresa and her siblings had to keep the reading a secret — she began to call it “an addiction,” her “little fault.”  She read in the quiet of dark spaces, much like the young Marcel Proust, who centuries later described [...]

SOULS: Nine Short Writings on the Soul by Mechthild of Magdeburg

November 20, 2012

The Soul Praises God for Five Things O Emperor of all honors. O Crown of all sovereigns. O Wisdom of all the learned. O Giver of all gifts. O Deliverer of all imprisonments. How God Comes to the Soul I come to my beloved as the dew upon the flower. How the Soul Receives and Praises God Ah, joyous sight! Ah, lovely greeting! Ah, dear embrace! Lord, the wonder of you has overwhelmed me. Your grace has crushed me. O you lofty Crag. You are so nicely honeycombed. In you no one can rest but doves and nightingales. How God Receives the Soul Welcome, my precious dove. You have flown so keenly over the earth That your feathers reach to heaven. God Likens the Soul to Four Things You taste like a grape. Your fragrance is like balsam. Your radiance [...]

ANGELS: The Nine Choirs, How They Sing by Mechthild of Magdeburg

November 20, 2012

Now hear, my Beloved: listen with spiritual ears. Thus do the nine choirs sing: We praise you, Lord, that you sought us in your humility. We praise you, Lord, that you have kept us in your mercy. We praise you, Lord, that you have glorified us in your humiliation. We praise you, Lord, that you have provided for us in your generosity. We praise you, Lord, that you have arranged us in rank in your wisdom. We praise you, Lord, that you have shielded us with your might. We praise you, Lord, that you have sanctified us with your nobility. We praise you, Lord, that you have instructed us in your intimacy. We praise you, Lord, that you have elevated us in your [...]

POETRY: Twenty Powers Of God’s Love And Many Kinds Of Names by Mechthild of Magdeburg

November 20, 2012

Ah, dear divine Love, ever embrace my soul, For it would murder me beyond all pain If I were to be separated from you! Ah, Love, let me now not grow cold, My actions are all dead When I do not feel you. O Love, you cause sweet pain and distress; You give the true children of God instruction and consolation. O Fetter of love, Your tender hand is strong. It binds both young and old. O Love, you make large burdens light, And to you small sins seem heavy. You serve without reward Ministering to all creatures. Ah, sweet divine Love, whenever I sleep too long And miss good things, Be so kind and awaken me, And sing to me, Lady, your song With which you touch the soul Like a sweet chord of strings. Ah, Lady Love, throw me beneath you. I would [...]

ANGELS: The Choirs of Angels by Hildegard of Bingen

September 17, 2012

From: Scivias, Book One, Vision Six Then I saw in the secret places in the heights of Heaven two armies of heavenly spirits who shone with great brightness.  Those in one of the armies had on their breasts wings, with forms like human forms in front of them, on which human features showed as if in clear water.  Those in the second army also had wings on their breasts, which displayed forms like human forms, in which the image of the Son of Man shone as if in a mirror.  And I could see no other form either in these or in the others.  These armies were arrayed in the shape of a crown around five other armies.  Those in the first of these five armies seemed as if they had human forms that shone with great splendor from the shoulders [...]

MYSTICAL WOMEN: Joan of Arc—A Declaration of Faith

December 14, 2011

Were it not for God’s grace I could do nothing.  Had I not the assurance that God directs my work, I would rather tend sheep than expose myself to such great perils. If I am not in God’s grace, may God bring me there.  If I am in it, may he keep me there.  I should be of all creatures the most miserable if I knew myself not to be in God’s grace. When I am in any way opposed, because one will hardly believe that what I declare has come from God, I seek solitude and pray to God, lamenting to him that they to whom I speak will not readily believe me.  When my prayer to God is ended, I hear a voice that says to me, “Daughter of God, go, go, go.  I will be your helper.  Go!”  And when I hear this voice, I [...]

MYSTICISM: Hildegard de Bingen, An Early Vision

December 8, 2011

When Hildegard was five years old, she was out walking with her nanny.  They saw a cow, and Hildegard looked deeper and could see the unborn calf inside the cow.  She described the coloring of the unborn calf, amazing her nanny. When the calf was born, Hildegard’s vision proved accurate. Shortly after this, Hildegard decided not to share the content of her visions, until she worked with her spiritual teacher, Jutta.  After Jutta, Hildegard kept the her visions secret until her early forties. Hildegard on the Creation, from the Book of Divine Works The leaping fountain is clearly the purity of the living God.  His radiance is reflected in it, and in that splendor, God embraces in his great love all things whose reflection appeared [...]