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The Awakened OnesPhenomenology of Visionary Experience$
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Gananath Obeyesekere

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153621

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153621.001.0001

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Penitential Ecstasy

Penitential Ecstasy

The Dark Night of the Soul

Chapter:
(p.169) Book 4 Penitential Ecstasy
Source:
The Awakened Ones
Author(s):

Gananath Obeyesekere

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231153621.003.0005

This chapter analyzes the rich visionary traditions in medieval Christianity. It first analyzes the visions of Julian of Norwich, the first known female author in England. These visions are recorded in two texts, both of which begin with Julian's wish for three things: a vivid perception of Christ's Passion; bodily sickness; and for God to give her three wounds. It then attempts to understand the symbolic meanings of dryness by interrogating a study on the parallelism between the “holy anorexia” of Christian female religious virtuosos and anorexia nervosa, the neurotic condition afflicting modern-day females. Next, it examines the notion of fasting females and the spiritual nourishment that sustained them through St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582). The remainder of the chapter discusses Margery Kempe, born around 1373, and her unique relation to Jesus, that is, her continual weeping and crying whenever she recollects his Passion.

Keywords:   Christian visions, medieval Christianity, Julian of Norwich, dryness, anorexia, fasting, Teresa of Avila, Margery Kempe, visions

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