Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7289
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Caciola , Nancy.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Mystics, Demoniacs, and the Physiology of Spirit Possession in Medieval Europe
  • Source: Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, 2 (April 2000): Pages 268 - 306.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Body Demoniac Possession Demoniacs Demons Discernment of Spirits, Determining Whether a Holy Person was Inspired by Jesus Christ or by the Devil Gender Hagiography Human Behavior Identity Lay Piety Mystics Spirituality Women in Religion
  • Geographic Area: General
  • Century: 13- 14- 15
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  • Abstract: Nancy Caciola finds, in the lives of medieval women saints, that authorities disagreed about whether “inspired women” were inspired by Christ or the Devil. Medical notions of the time had it that only God can enter the heart, the Devil only the intestines; but they offered no reliable method for “the discrimination of spirits,” which remained the unresolved problem of detecting female sainthood. This changed in the sixteenth century, when a calm demeanor became the sign of divine inspiration. “As the discernment of spirits became a discernment of bodies, the female body increasingly was defined as a habitation for demons, rather than a locus of indwelling divinity.” Performative eccentricity and loss of control not only ceased to be routes to sainthood for women, they came to be identified with its opposite and were treated by exorcism. [Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press.]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of California, San Diego
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2000.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00104175
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