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Plato Grishin
Plato Grishin

[S1E2] Intercessors

Professor Nancy van Deusen: These visionaries were relying on the work of medieval mystics and visionaries, most notably Hildegard of Bingen, in the 12th century, who not only had visions of seeing souls in purgatory, of working as an, as intercessors to lessen the purgatorial stay and the intensity of sins, but they were encouraged or, they, they really worked hard to write their own visions.

[S1E2] Intercessors

Hayley Bowman: Religious women like Sor María and Ursula de Jesús became spiritual conduits, transmitters and messengers between the supernatural and worldly realms. In part empowered by their authority as experienced visionaries and intercessors, both mystics navigated their positions as women within the early modern Catholic church and Spanish world to achieve renown and authority otherwise relegated to men. Their accounts were not mere products of contemporary understandings and fears about the afterlife; instead, these accounts document an active, indeed masterly participation in the development and shaping of vital ideas by sharing their personal experiences and interactions with suffering souls of all social standings. After all, the souls of Spanish royalty and afro-Peruvian slaves alike, ended up in the same place.

The other reason is that purgatory is something that 99.9% of all souls experience. You have to be very, very Holy, having lived an extremely pious life, to go directly to heaven. So purgatory is imagined as a space somewhere between heaven and hell. And it is part of global Catholicism. It is everywhere that Catholicism spreads. You have the notion of purgatory being part of that. Now, the idea that everyone does time in purgatory is a sort of a sobering reality for the living and for intercessors who are helping on behalf of the dead or for the living who are concerned about their loved ones who are dead, who have died. And so it's, it's on everybody's minds, but purgatory, it's a very, universalized space. It's conceptually part of Catholic thinking. And yet at the same time, I would say that it's a very, it's a space for the imaginary and an act of imagination, and women are very active in conceptualizing how purgatory looks. It's spatial configurations, it's relationship spatially to heaven and hell, who they see in purgatory, the kinds of sins that are there, the kinds of punishments that are rendered for certain sins, et cetera. And so both spatially and conceptually women are visionaries, are the ones who are really, actively, making changes to how purgatory is conceptualized over time.

The last reason is that, you know, there's a historian named Carlos Eire who has written about purgatory, and purgatory in the early modern Catholic world becomes part of the, the sort of spiritual economy. So there are ways because people believed that they had to spend time in purgatory, theologians and male confessors actually promoted the publication and circulation of manuscripts or the visions that are encouraged to be written down by these visionaries as a way of sort of boosting the moral fiber of Catholic society. But it is also a way of promoting the spiritual economy, in the sense that purgatory can make money for the church. Because if you say masses on behalf of the dead, that's believed to help lessen the amount of time in purgatory. There are indulgences. And then of course, these intercessors themselves are consulted. And sometimes they make money doing this, to find out the whereabouts of dead souls in purgatory. So it kind of helps everybody economically and purgatory is part of the economy of Catholicism. So those are the sort of basic, some of the basic reasons why I think purgatorial piety is, really, a female, a feminine domain. 041b061a72


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