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September 30, 2003


LA CROSSE, Wis—Women mystics will be the subject of a lecture and dramatic presentation by Fr. Bernard McGarty, and Viterbo religious studies students to be held Monday, Nov. 10, at 6:30 p.m. in university’s Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.

The event is free and open to the public.

McGarty will explore the spiritual writings and church leadership of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-79), Julian of Norwich (1342-1416), Catherine of Siena (1347-80), and Teresa of Avila (1515-82). The four women are considered important mentors of what is known as mystical theology.

At a time when few women wrote or were in positions of prominence, Hildegard of Bingen produced major works of theology and visionary writings. Accordingly, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She is also known to have used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees, and stones.

During her lifetime, Julian of Norwich became known as a counselor, whose advice combined spiritual insight with common sense, and many persons came to speak with her. Since her death, many more have found help in her writings particularly "Revelations of Divine Love."

Catherine of Siena freely gave advice to popes, queens, and kings. She was spontaneous, unafraid of authority and fearless in the face of death. She was a Dominican religious who corresponded with Popes and peasants alike. Her impact on society was so profound that Europe was unable to forget her and shortly after her death, she was canonized by Pope Pius II.

Teresa of Avila entered religious life by joining the Carmelite Order. Her legacy includes the formation of manny new convents, which she continued founding up to the year of her death. She also left a significant legacy of writings, which represent important benchmarks in the history of Christian mysticism. These works include the "Way of Perfection" and the "Interior Castle."

McGarty,  who holds the title of Visiting Scholar in Ecumenical Studies at Viterbo has given previous lectures on Jewish, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Islam traditions.

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