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A New Way Of Living? Luisa De Carvajal And The Limits Of Mysticism

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Chapter Summary

In the mid-1620s, almost two dozen people gave testimony at the abortive investigation into the sanctity of Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza. She can be regarded as one of the first, if not the first, female missionary of modern times. The mastermind behind Luisa's pilgrimage to England, as she deemed it, was in all probability the Jesuit Michael Walpole. It culminates with the hope that her life would become unbound (desatada) to pure love, which could only mean that she-one and the same with the &t;she&t; of the poem-would be free to embrace death. It is wholly understandable that Luisa is compared frequently with the most profound female mystical writer of all time, Teresa of Ávila. Given the fullness of her life story, it is impossible to encapsulate Luisa in a single word. If not mysticism in a conventional sense, she nonetheless experienced moments of fleeting ecstasy amidst the darkness.

Keywords: female missionary; Luisa de Carvajal; Michael Walpole; mid-1620s; mysticism; Teresa of Ávila



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