The Officially Approved Woman Mystic and Her Supporters

Stephen Haliczer

in Between Exaltation and Infamy

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195148633
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199869923 | DOI:
The Officially Approved Woman Mystic and Her Supporters

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As the convent increasingly became a venue of ‘aristocratization’, those mystics who received ‘official’ approval tended to be women from privileged and educated families. Further, convents themselves began to mirror the existing social class hierarchy. While women from poorer backgrounds could achieve an ‘official’ mystic status, only rarely could they attain the position of convent abbess. Also, their educational achievements were attributed to divine intervention rather than natural intellectual gift. Approved mystics, especially those women of high social standing, had a well‐developed support system and knew that to maintain their positions it was necessary to staunchly uphold orthodox tenets and to uncompromisingly support the church's hierarchy, particularly the authority of bishops.

Keywords: aristocratization; biographers; bishops; convents; dowry; hierarchy; literacy; official mystics; orthodox; social class

Chapter.  13314 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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