Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima

Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima

Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima

Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima

Synopsis

The Peruvian mystic St. Rose of Lima (Isabel Flores y Oliva, 1586-1617) was canonized in 1671 as the first saint of the New World and remains the object of widespread devotion today. In this engrossing new study, Frank Graziano uses the example of St. Rose to explore the meaning of female mysticism and the way in which saints are products of their cultures. Virginity, austerity, eucharistic devotion, incessant mortification, and mystical marriage to Christ characterized the devotional regimen that structured St. Rose's entire life. Many of her mystical practices echo the symptoms of such modern psychological disorders as masochism, depression, hysteria, and anorexia nervosa. Graziano offers a sophisticated argument not only for the origins and meaning of these behaviors in Rose's case, but also for the reason her culture venerated them as signs of sanctity. In the process he explores a wide range of themes, from the idea of suffering as an expression of love to the assimilation of childhood trauma through religious repetition. Graziano also offers a penetrating analysis of the politics of Rose's canonization. He finds that her mystical union with God--bypassing the institutional channels of sacrament and priestly mediation--was inherently subversive to the bureaucratized Church. Canonization was a cooptation by which Rose's competing claim to Christ was integrated into the Catholic canon. The book concludes with a fascinating exploration of mystical eroticism, with its intense experiences of vision and ecstasy. The eroticized suffering of many mystics is shown to be very human in origin: the mystic's wounded love is projected onto a God conceived to accommodate it. Wounds of Love is based on a decade of research in archives, rare books, and an extraordinary range of secondary sources. Introducing an innovative method that integrates history, cultural studies, psychoanalysis, and clinical psychology, this compelling work offers a bold new interpretation of female mysticism.

Excerpt

The principal primary sources on St. Rose of Lima are the depositions taken during the ordinary and apostolic processes of beatification and canonization, both conducted in Lima in the early seventeenth century. the most complete and least damaged copies of these documents are found in the Vatican Secret Archives, Sacred Congregation of Rites section, in the manuscript volumes numbered 1570 through 1580. (During my visit in 1994, volume 1579 could not be located.) the most important volumes for the purposes of the study reported in this volume are 1570 (which contains the testimonies of the ordinary process taken in 1617 and 1618) and 1573 and 1574 (which are virtually identical and each contain the testimonies of the apostolic process taken between 1630 and 1632. Volume 1573 also contains several unbound, unnumbered pages of letters that were written in 1631 and 1632 by civil and religious authorities of the Viceroyalty of Peru and were dispatched from Lima to Rome to manifest support for Rose's canonization. Many of these letters are also available in print sources.

Given the relative inaccessibility of these manuscripts and the confusion resulting from the unsynchronized pagination of the many original and microfilm copies (such as those in the Archivo Arzobispal in Lima, the Dominican College Library in Washington, and the Lilly Library at Indiana University, in addition to the mentioned Vatican volumes), I have cited witness testimony primarily from modern print sources. in these cases, the identity of the particular witness and the secondary source—usually the compilation published by Cayetano Bruno—are noted. in those cases for which no print source was available or known to me, I referenced the Vatican manuscripts. I have also cited the key hagiographies of Pedro de . . .

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