Catholic Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Mary R. Reichardt | Go to book overview
Save to active project

MADAME GUYON (1648–1717)

BIOGRAPHY

In Catholic circles, Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon’s name has been chiefly associated with the Quietist controversy that raged in late-seventeenth-century France. In Protestant circles, she has long been esteemed as an inspiring spiritual writer who overcame adversity to live the life of faith. She seems to have seen herself simply as a believer touched by God and impelled to tell of that irresistible touch. She was, to use her own image, a “spiritual torrent”: “We who are believers are like rivers. There are rivers that flow very slowly, arriving late to their destination. Others move more rapidly than that. The third type moves so fast that none dare sail upon it. It is a mad, headlong torrent” (Spiritual Torrents, p. 2).

Jeanne was born in Montargis, France, in 1648, the daughter of a royal procurator and his second wife. She recalled feeling neglected in childhood. From the age of two, she was a frequent boarder at a series of monasteries, receiving there little intellectual training but rather a fervent, if eclectic, spiritual formation. In these years she was introduced to the life of Jeanne de Chantal, a widow-become-religious, which served as an inspiration and her introduction to interior prayer. Her early desire to enter religious life was thwarted by illness, and just before her sixteenth birthday her family arranged a marriage with Jacques Guyon, a wealthy businessman twenty-eight years her senior.

The marriage was a sad one, plagued by illness, loss, and the domination of a jealous mother-in-law. The union produced five children, two of whom died young, intensifying Jeanne Guyon’s sorrows. During these difficult married years, she developed an intense devotional life and, in 1668, experienced an inner transformation which resulted in a form of non-conceptual prayer she termed the “prayer of faith.” Guided by a Benedictine abbess and a priest renowned as a spiritual director, Madame Guyon’s interior life blossomed.

In 1676 Guyon’s husband died, leaving his young widow a considerable fortune. Her intention was never again to lose her liberty, so she pursued an

-149-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Catholic Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 424

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?