This 11,000-word article considers ‘invisible stigmata’, sacred wounds that were described by those who claimed to have them as real and sometimes painful, but indiscernible to onlookers. These wounds are associated with a number of notable women; the article focuses on four of them: the nuns Beatrice of Nazareth (1200–1268) and Gertrude of Helfta (1256–1302), and the holy women Catherine of Siena (1347–1380) and Osanna of Mantua (1449–1505). I demonstrate that invisible stigmata indicated that these women were significantly involved in the religious formation of themselves and of others; and, with the examples of Catherine of Siena and Osanna of Mantua, the invisible marks highlighted a remarkable engagement in ecclesiastical and secular affairs. The sacramental quality of the hidden wounds both defended and validated these women’s active participation in late medieval religious life, facilitating a loosening of the gendered restrictions of ordination.
|Title of host publication||New Essays on Medieval and Early Modern Mystical Women|
|Place of Publication||Turnhout|
|Publication status||Submitted - 6 Sep 2019|
- Beatrice of Nazareth; Gertrude of Helfta; Catherine of Siena; Osanna of Mantua; women and ordination; invisible stigmata