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Book: The Religious Body Imagined

Chapter: 2. Gender Matters in Religious Bodies

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.39646


It is now a truism, certainly in medieval religious studies, that Christian piety practiced by women is body-centered and affective. Reflective of ancient philosophical dichotomies that oppose spirit and matter, this tradition affiliates men with mind and reason, and women with body and emotion. These patterns became entrenched in the experience of God to the point where they formed behavior as much as they described it, and as this understanding moved into the early modern period (XV-XVII), men were increasingly less represented as having ecstatic experiences of God, and women could have no other kind. This study provides evidence from texts by and about several famous religious men of early modern Spain that women were not alone in practicing embodied piety. However, they did not write about it in public documents, on the one hand, and information about it included in early biographies of them was systematically erased, on the other.

Chapter Contributors

  • Elizabeth Rhodes ( - erhodes) 'Boston College'