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During the Counter-Reformation, the Church was confronted by an extraordinary upsurge of feminine religious enthusiasm like that of Serafina. Inspired by new translations of the lives of the saints, devout women all over Catholic Europe sought to imitate these "athletes of Christ" through extremes of self-abnegation, physical mortification, and devotion. As in the Middle Ages, such women's piety often took the form of ecstatic visions, revelations, voices and stigmata.
Stephen Haliczer offers a comprehensive portrait of women's mysticism in Golden Age Spain, where this enthusiasm was nearly a mass movement. The Church's response, he shows, was welcoming but wary, and the Inquisition took on the task of winnowing out frauds and imposters. Haliczer draws on fifteen cases brought by the Inquisition against women accused of "feigned sanctity," and on more than two dozen biographies and autobiographies. The key to acceptance, he finds, lay in the orthodoxy of the woman's visions and revelations. He concludes that mysticism offered women a way to transcend, though not to disrupt, the control of the male-dominated Church.
|1||Spain and the Golden Age of Mysticism||9|
|2||Women and the Saintly Ideal||28|
|3||Women Mystics in a Male-Dominated Culture||48|
|4||The Officially Approved Woman Mystic and Her Supporters||80|
|6||An Uncertain Sword: The Spanish Inquisition and the Repression of Feigned Sanctity||125|
|7||A Counter-Reformation Childhood||146|
|8||Adolescence and the Struggle for Self-Assertion||161|
|10||Religious Life and Devotions||213|
|11||Between Power and Impotence: Social Role and Social Fantasies||241|
|12||The Perception of Sanctity: Reputation, Cult Formation, and Canonization||265|