Sensuality, Spirituality, and Sexuality in the Religious Experience of Female Mystics
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One of the compelling chapters of medieval religious history from Beatrice of Nazareth to Teresa of Avila concerns female mystics and their expressions of faith. The writings of women like Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch, and Angela of Foligno are infused with imagery of spirituality, sensuality, and sexuality wherein the experience of God is eroticized. The love visions of many of these women appear to conflict with official church doctrine, creating unease and suspicion, and some of these mystics were hereticated by ecclesiastical authority. The writings of female mystics contrast sharply with those of their male counterparts. There are definite linkages with patristic-era deification theology, and the clashes between Beguine religious practice and sanctioned convents reveal the diversity of medieval religion.