Women and the Saintly Ideal

Stephen Haliczer

in Between Exaltation and Infamy

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195148633
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199869923 | DOI:
Women and the Saintly Ideal

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In response to fears of heterodoxy arising from Protestant, Jewish, and Islamic influences, the Spanish Counter‐Reformation sought, through education and indoctrination, to create a new vernacular culture of religion. This led to a surge in interest in the lives of saints and mystics and a proliferation of the publication of hagiographies, which became readily available to the literate middle and upper‐middle classes as well as to the less educated. The monarchy openly supported canonization movements for many of these saints when it was perceived to be politically expedient. Study of the spiritual biographies of female saints and mystics became especially popular among both educated and less‐privileged women, leading to their imitation of devotional lifestyles and inspiring their own new mystical experiences. Although concerned with the need to control such female religious fervor, male theologians did not wish to diminish the growing Catholic enthusiasm.

Keywords: artists; canonization; Counter‐Reformation; Flos Sanctorum; hagiographies; indoctrination; monarchy; mystics; saints

Chapter.  10749 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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