Teresa of Avila and the Politics of Sanctity

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9780801432323: Teresa of Avila and the Politics of Sanctity

Teresa of Avila, one of history's most beloved mystics, wrote during a time of intense ecclesiastical scrutiny of texts. The determination of the Counter-Reformation Church to dominate religious life and control the content of theological writing significantly influenced Teresa's career as reformer and writer. Gillian T. W. Ahlgren explores the theological and ecclesiastical climate of sixteenth-century Spain in this study of the challenges Teresa encountered as a female theologian and mystic.
As inquisitional censure increased and the authority of women's visions and ecstatic prayer experiences declined, Teresa's written self-expressions became, of necessity, less direct. Her later writing was heavily encoded and scholars have only recently begun to decipher those protective codes. Ahlgren demonstrates how Teresa's rhetorical style and theological message were directly responsive to the climate of suspicion created by the Inquisition and how they thus constituted a challenge to sixteenth-century assumptions about women.
The only female theologian to be published in late sixteenth-century Spain, Teresa sought to provide a clear defense of mystical experience, particularly that of women. Ahlgren suggests that the rhetorical strategies Teresa developed to protect women's visionary experiences were subsequently used by Church officials to rewrite aspects of her life and thought, transforming her into the model for official Counter-Reformation sanctity.

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Gillian T. W. Ahlgren is Assistant Professor of Theology at Xavier University.

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Ahlgren, Gillian T. W.
Published by Cornell Univ Pr (1996)
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Gillian T. W. Ahlgren
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ISBN 10: 0801432324 ISBN 13: 9780801432323
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