Religion, History and Gender in Northern Europe c. 1800–2000
Edited By Alexander Maurits, Johannes Ljungberg and Erik Sidenvall
This book includes studies of main conflict areas in modern Western societies where religion has been a central element, ranging from popular movements and narratives of opposition to challenges of religious satire and anti-clerical critique. Special attention is given to matters of politics and gender. With this theme, it provides a useful guide to conflict areas in modern European religious history.
Tine Van Osselaer
Abstract This chapter addresses the European stigmatics in the nineteenth and twentieth century and studies on the stigmatics’ (public) suffering and the eye-witnesses of these events. Addressing pain as both a subjective experience and cultural construction, the focus here is on pain as religiously meaningful. The analysis of the published eye-witness reports indicates a ‘productive’ pain on three levels: that of the stigmatic, of the writer and of the reader. Including both physical and emotional pain, the exterior and interior, it becomes obvious that the stigmatics were presented as an inextricable combination of passion and com-passion: a combination that brings the alleged ‘gender shift’ that has often been linked to the stigmatic’s imitating the body of the suffering Christ into question.
Interiority, Gender and Stigmata
Why study inwardness and gender through the lens of stigmatics in nineteenth-and twentieth-century Europe? Arguably, stigmata are one of the most external features, or effects, of Catholic piety. In this chapter, I will point out that studying exactly the ‘interior’ aspects of stigmatisation allows us to question the alleged ‘gender shift’ that has often been linked to stigmatics.1 Through an analysis of the stigmatics’ contemplation of Christ’s suffering, we get a more complex story than the (female) stigmatics ‘imitating’ the suffering (male) body of Christ.←59 | 60→
Stigmatics have been studied from a gender perspective before and, roughly summarised, two perspectives have dominated the analyses.2 A first line of research emphasised gender-confirmative aspects. The majority of the modern stigmatics were female (unlike Christ and Saint Francis, the first case of stigmatisation). This predominance of female stigmatics has been used by their contemporaries and the scholars who studied them, as an argument in the explanation of the phenomenon as something ‘typically feminine’. The emphasis is thereby put on ‘women’s alleged feeble nature’, their bodily disposition (ruled by their menstrual cycle) and concurrent tendency towards ‘hysteria’. Such discourses are perfect examples of the nineteenth-century corporealisation, essentialisation, of gender norms and ideas. Supported by medical findings and anthropological research, ideas of femininity became biological destiny. In its most extreme forms (e.g. in anti-Catholic discourses of the late nineteenth century) this association of women’s religion with hysteria has had a negative impact on the reputation of Catholicism and especially Catholic mysticism.3 A telling example is the following paragraph from the introduction to the psychiatrist Wilhelm Jacobi’s book Die Stigmatisierten (1923). He claimed the following:
The higher number of stigmatized women is probably caused by woman’s deeper emotional life, in her higher tendency towards religious rapture, in the special corporeal disposition of the female sex conditioned through menstruation and its greater disposition towards hysteria and similar nervous disorders.4←60 | 61→
Another approach within this rather gender-confirmative stand has a more positive take on the references to women’s bodies. In particular, scholars have pointed out how stigmatics (and other mystics) could use their bodies to get a voice within a male-dominated culture. Within the Catholic Church women could not obtain authority through their office. They could, however, claim a certain authority by referring to their own (corporeal) religious experience − hence the importance of visible signs of this experience.5
Secondly, scholars have studied the stigmatics’ non-confirmative potential. Paula Kane’s work on visiting lay stigmatics at home is of particular importance here. She has noted that these women did not fit the dominant Catholic lay feminine ideal of domestic motherhood. Not only were they not married, they were not domestic, secluded, women either. On the contrary, some of them received thousands of visitors. While ‘suffering’ was perceived as women’s natural role, the public setting of their redemptory suffering (I will return to this term later on) was hard to rhyme with the idealisation of the angelic mother, secluded from the world. Still, so Kane stresses, whilst these women seemed to claim via this ‘redemptory suffering’, ‘masculine and spiritual power like Jesus, the man-God who triumphed over death’ theologians made clear that ‘victimhood did not convey any spiritual or sacramental authority upon women’.6←61 | 62→
The focus of this chapter is also on the stigmatics’ (public) suffering. More in particular, I study the experience of pain as a religious experience, thereby addressing pain as both a subjective experience and cultural construction. Or, physical sensations are only perceived as pain because we have learned to experience them as such. I follow Louise Hide, Joanna Bourke and Carmen Mangion who postulate that ‘Pain has meaning, which is formed out of the complex interactions taking place between the body, mind and culture. As a result, it differs from person to person, social group to social group, and it changes over time and space. It is profoundly influenced by personal beliefs as well as social mores and temporal contexts.’7 The physical and emotional experience of pain cannot be studied apart from one another, nor the body apart from the soul.8 As we shall see, the stigmatics suffered physically and emotionally, and both types of pain were inextricably tied up and considered as meaningful suffering.
How pain is interpreted from a religious perspective depends on the historical context. For my analysis here, the nineteenth-century Catholic take on pain is of particular importance. In her book on the story of pain (2014), Joanna Bourke argues that within Catholic and Protestant versions of Christianity bodily pain is equipped with a divine purpose. She mentions, among the theological explanations she could trace, ‘pain as the result of sin, a guide to virtuous behaviour, a stimulus to personal development, and a means of salvation’.9 As Xenia von Tippelskirch has noted, any such history of pain inevitably calls for a close analysis of the phenomenon of stigmatisation –if only because stigmata have only been reported since the thirteenth century and are almost exclusively tied up with Catholicism.10←62 | 63→
It is important to stress here that the type of stigmata differed throughout the various centuries. In the seventeenth century, for instance, invisible stigmata seem to have set the tone with the stigmatics suffering through Christ’s passion but not displaying physical marks on their bodies. In the modern era –an era eager for perceivable ‘proof’ − visible stigmata and the according suffering were ‘en vogue’.11 Stigmatics displayed either imitative or figurative stigmata on specific days (e.g. Fridays) or throughout their lives. As we shall see, this visibility could turn their religious experience also into a religious experience for those who witnessed their Passion episodes.
In order to understand the meaning attached to the experience of pain, several trends in the Catholic culture of the time need to be pointed out. As numerous scholars have argued, since the mid-nineteenth century Catholic culture was characterised by an increasing emphasis on and appreciation of the experience and expression of emotions. One of the important trends of the religious culture was a growing subjectivity and individualisation. The romantic enthusiasm for the Middle Ages not only resulted in a revitalisation of more external forms of piety like the cults of relics and saints and pilgrimages, but also in a renewed interest in medieval mysticism that resulted in a revalorisation of subjective and private prayer.12 This subjective trend was in tune with more general trends in society that suffered through the disappointment of the revolutions. However, it was also consciously cultivated in a pastoral strategy that opposed the perceived materialism of the era.13
Even though this era has been called the century of Mary (starting with the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and ending with the consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Mary), Christo-centric devotions like the cult of the Sacred Heart also flourished. This devotion and the Eucharistic piety, which was on the rise as well, put a stronger emphasis on the suffering Christ than on the triumphing God.←63 | 64→
While these reflections on the Sacrament of the altar initially focused primarily on the sins/piety and potential graces of individuals (the communion as religious nourishment), new emphases gradually developed. Under French impulse, the sins of society as a whole became the focal point and Eucharistic piety developed a strong apostolic character.14 Going to communion became a reparatory act, an attempt to atone and comfort the Sacred Heart suffering for blasphemies and sins others had committed. The reparatory character comprised in these Christo-centric devotions also shows in the idealisation of ‘vicarious suffering’. These ‘victim souls’, frequently women, suffered voluntarily through illness, corporeal afflictions and ascetic practices in order to atone for the sins of others (or society as a whole). They stressed the Catholic view on the ‘beneficial effects’ of suffering, a ‘mode of Catholic thinking about affliction that had flourished from the Council of Trent until Vatican II’.15 A ‘victim soul’ could suffer from ‘illnesses or handicaps or self-inflicted forms of penance’ to atone for the sins of others. A central feature was their obedient submission to suffering.16 This reparatory ideal also pervaded the discussions on the stigmatics, who as an alter Christ seems to suffer for society’s sins.
There was no disenchanted modernity. Rather, the popularity of the stigmatics (and the related paramystical phenomena) shows the eagerness with which some of the faithful wanted to accept physical evidence of the divine intervention in the world.17 The Church, weakened by recent political skirmishes, was eager to support this lay enthusiasm yet remained critical and demanded extensive medical examinations.18 Reports on such stigmatics and other ‘wonders’ seem to have been more frequent in times of crisis. Niels Freytag and Diethard Sawicki have pointed out that in the context of crisis, magical practices and religious cult phenomena are always in conjuncture, either by attracting a lot of people or by getting into the view of ecclesiastical authorities.19
The combination of these factors influenced the perception of the stigmatics of that era. It prepared the visitors for what they were about to see and taught them how to cherish pain (as it could be sanctifying).←64 | 65→
Visiting Modern European Stigmatics
The nineteenth century was a ‘golden era’ for the stigmatics and they were reported all over Europe.20 A new trend developed and, as Paula Kane and Nicole Priesching have noted, in this period it became popular to visit the stigmatics at home. The stigmatics attracted visitors from far beyond their local village or town. As the means to travel had become cheaper and easier, all types of pilgrims (and no longer solely the happy few) could travel to see foreign, famous, stigmatics. The trend continued well into the twentieth century.
This popular enthusiasm, so the story often went, contributed to the stigmatics’ suffering, and while they themselves would rather have passed their lives in the anonymity of their rooms, God had other plans. A telling example is this description of how Therese Neumann (1898–1962), a famous German stigmatic, allegedly perceived her popularity. In his book on the conversions triggered by Theresa Neumann, Dom Odo Straudinger left no doubt about the great sacrifice the German stigmatic made in renouncing a more secluded life. Neumann believed she had a religious mission when she allowed people to gaze at her during her religious experiences. The thousands of people who came to see her quite often published on the experience. ‘The submission to God’s will and the fervour for the souls also force Theresa to make that sacrifice that is so great for her, and that is to renounce the hidden life. She is convinced that God wants to employ her in the service of the souls.’21←65 | 66→
The late nineteenth and early twentieth century were also the period during which the mass media developed as the production methods improved. While the religious press had always been available, we can see in this era a multiplication of religious periodicals and booklets aiming at a general audience (mixed lay and clerical). Among these books and periodicals were those focusing on stigmatics –both dead and alive. In the majority of the cases, these were put on a semi-saintly level by their supporters and without approval of the Catholic Church. Some of them were eventually, officially declared saints –but their stigmata played almost no part in that official approval, their beatification and canonisation.22 This lack of interest, however, stands in stark contrast to the lay periodicals and booklets in which even the illustrations indicate the prominence of the stigmata. The goals of these publications were very diverse. Those published after the demise of the stigmatic often intended to keep the memory of the stigmatic alive and support the (official) cause of the stigmatic. The goals of the books published during the lifetime of the stigmatic are more difficult to pinpoint. A list drafted by a contemporary of the types of publications on the Belgian stigmatic Louise Lateau (1850–1883) gives us an idea of their variety:
How can one pronounce the name Louise Lateau without recalling also the commotion that this provoked? Books of science and philosophy, official reports, academic discourses, reports of visits, feuilletons, conferences, pamphlets, journal articles, all literary genres were used to inform the public about the stigmatic of Bois d’Haine.23
Not all stigmatics drew as much attention as Louise did, but ‘reports of the visits’ (‘comptes rendus de visites’) –our focus here –have been preserved for several of them. Lay and clerical ‘pilgrims’ visited them, saw them suffer through Christ’s passion, were edified by the experience and published what they saw. Attending the religious experience of these women was, in spite of its public setting (and visibility), an intimate enough experience to stimulate conversions and religious reflections. These were made public in diverse types of texts.←66 | 67→
First of all, there were the self-reflective texts in which the authors related their personal experience of the visit and combined it with reflections on society as a whole. An example of this type of text is the book of the Catholic convert Lars Eskeland, Mijn bezoek aan Theresia Neumann (My visit to Theresia Neumann, 1932). Miscellaneous publications were published as well. These can best be described as a combination of self-reflective texts with information you would expect in religious tourist guides. L. Parcot, for instance, included in his Ce que j’ai vu à Konnersreuth (What I saw in Konneresreuth, 1937) a map with travel information. A. Huybers elaborated in his Naar en rond Konnersreuth (To and around Konnersreuth, s.d.) on what trains to take. Finally, there were a series of periodicals that included conversion stories, stories about cures and lists of the visitors. Such periodicals were rather similar to those linked to authorised pilgrimage sites. A telling example is the Chronique de Konnersreuth (French translation of the German Konnersreuther Jahrbuch).
Our focus here is on the diverse publications about the visits to two well-known stigmatics who were celebrities during their lifetime: the Belgian Louise Lateau and the German Therese Neumann. Both were lay women from a humble background and rural area, who went through Christ’s passion (on Fridays) and displayed visible stigmata. Initially they could be visited by everyone who wanted to, and this tolerance could lead to large crowds (e.g. in the case of Neumann to 4,000 a day. The total number of visitors to Louise Lateau on Fridays has been estimated at circa 12,269).24 In a later phase, special permission was needed (e.g. in Neumann’s case: from the bishop of Regensburg). While we do not want to create the impression that late nineteenth-century Belgian Catholicism and early-twentieth-century German Catholicism provide the same background, we do believe that the reports on these stigmatics display similarities that can be discussed together.
Reporting on Religious Experience: The Publications←67 | 68→
Those lucky enough to gain access to the stigmatics wrote about their visits in books and periodicals. This leaves us with an extensive corpus of mediated, idealised, personal religious experience. The books often carry the imprimatur or nihil obstat, but also include the remark that the authors want to obey the final verdict of the Church in these matters. Being permitted to publish on stigmatics was not as self-evident as one might think. The archives of the archdiocese of Mechelen, for instance, contain a manuscript with a description of the life and saying of the Belgian stigmatic Lucie Schmidt-Klaer. The archbishop did not give his approval for the publication for ‘There are in that exposition a lot of features –words and facts –that are either strange or hardly conform to the Christian sense, or even contrary to the Catholic doctrine.’25 Even after their revision of certain passages, Lucie’s supporters did not manage to obtain the imprimatur.
The easiest way to trace the goals of these publications is to discuss the author’s perception of the stigmatic and her suffering. Several of these books were published in series intended to improve the morality and knowledge of Catholic teachings of the audience (e.g. ‘La bonne lecture’/‘The good literature’, ‘Volksbibliotheek’/‘People’s library’, ‘Geloofsonderricht’/‘Religious education’). The stigmatic and in particular the stigmatic’s virtuous life are thereby held out as an example to the Catholic readers, an example of an interior life they might imitate (contrary to the exterior aspects, the stigmata). Henri Van Looy, for instance, focuses in his biography of Louise Lateau (1874) on the interior aspect as ‘that is the principal part, that needs to serve for the edification of the fellow human, revitalise his faith and bring him to glorify the Lord, who always calls upon those who appear to be the humblest of the world when he wants to do great things.’26←68 | 69→
Authors encouraged their readers to go to Communion frequently,27 to learn about the power of suffering28 and find their way back to God. Therese Neumann was described as a travel companion for the proletariat that had lost its religion. Just like them, she herself had been forced to gain her bread with hard work and in her, one could see Jesus − the son of the carpenter of Nazareth with a background similar to theirs.29 Other books list the author’s intention explicitly in the introduction. An anonymous French priest (E. de Meneval?30) linked it to the political circumstances. He noted in 1871 that he wanted to prove to his Catholic readers that the supernatural still had its place in the modern rationalist and materialist era.31 August Rohling on the other hand described the readers he had in mind in the title of his book published in 1874: ‘Louise Lateau, the stigmatic of Bois d’Haine. According to authentic medical and theological documents for Jews and Christians of all confessions’.32 In his introduction, he formulated the hope that his descriptions of Louise’s sufferings would lead to conversions among those readers.
Pain, Suffering and Compassion←69 | 70→
The pain of the stigmatics was not the only pain that was cultivated in these publications. In fact, the reports on these visits are a perfect illustration of what Jan Rhodes has called the performative character of the depictions of suffering: describing sufferings could trigger new suffering.33 In analysing the personal reflections published in these texts, we thus have to discuss three levels of ‘suffering’ as a religious practice: (1) that of the stigmatics who see Christ suffer and suffer with him (in mind and body), (2) that of the visitors (a suffering induced by contemplating the body of the stigmatic) and (3) that of the readers who were encouraged via explicit descriptions of the suffering to feel compassion. Apart from physical pain, emotional suffering is central to the religious experience. Mind and body are inextricably entwined and every emotional suffering has a physical component –a historical body that has learned to feel and express via interaction with others (and thus historically contingent).34
For the two last levels of analysis, the visitors and the readers, we thus follow the lead of Rob Boddice who suggested, in the introduction to his edited volume on pain and emotion, looking into the processes of bearing witness to pain (of others) and its emotional component –‘the stimuli to pity, tenderness, compassion and sympathy, all of which historically and literally have denoted the emotional pain, some of it enjoyable, of the witness to pain.’35
On entering the room of the stigmatics on Fridays, any visitor could witness the various stages of the way of the Cross, at least, if that was the mindset with which he or she had decided upon a visit. Bodily movements like the contortion of feet and painful expressions indicated to the onlooker what part of Christ’s passion the stigmatic was experiencing. However, the stigmatics also went through emotional pain − internal, spiritual, sufferings. In his biography of Louise Lateau, Henri Van Looy discussed these more elaborately: ‘What to say about her interior suffering, produced not only by her mental despairs, but also by divine lights that strike her soul, or by the frequent recall that pulls her away from her union with God? That sort of suffering is incomprehensible also to Louise herself.’36 Half a century later, Therese Neumann suffered emotionally as well: ‘She does penance for deceased souls. These are spiritual sufferings, an indescribable sadness, an ardent desire for the Saviour who distances himself.’37←70 | 71→
Visitors interpreted the pain they witnessed from a Catholic perspective according to which ‘suffering’, and especially their obedient acceptance of it, was valuable. It implied going through pain for a greater cause. Stigmatics reminded those who saw them of Christ’s sacrifice. Jeanne Danemarie (pseudonym of Marthe Pontet-Bordeaux), for instance, wrote in 1933 on her visit to Therese Neumann:
I have seen a living crucifix, sculpted, marked with the wounds of Christ, reminding the forgetful and ungrateful men of the Redeemer who wants deify them in his imitation. […] that recollection of the Passion of Christ on a living being, someone has called that one of the factors of the new offensive of Christ to attract to Him the love of the people.38
As he had done in his ultimate atonement, they suffered as a reparatory act for the sins of others, they were ‘victim souls’, ‘vicarious victims’.39 Authors like Van Looy and A. Fox noted how in 1870 and 1871 Louise Lateau’s suffering increased when the political situation in Rome and Paris got worse. A. Fox, a banned Prussian priest who found a shelter in Belgium, exclaimed in his book ‘Here we have the expiatory victim for the crimes that are being committed at this moment in Rome and in Paris.’ Louise always suffered more during those events when God, the Church, its Leaders or faithful servants were insulted.40←71 | 72→
The suffering of the stigmatics was a reparatory act and while the above quotations primarily refer to the crimes and sins of society as a whole, the stigmatics suffered for more individual causes as well. They could be asked to suffer to provoke a conversion, or they ‘took on’ the illness of someone who wrote to them. As Bourke has noted, in this line of thinking, ‘pain is restorative, not destructive’.41 However, even though Catholic visitors interpreted the stigmatics’ pain as redemptory and meaningful suffering, to some of their contemporaries their pain did not hold the same meaning. The Catholic authors under discussion here were well aware that the stigmatics’ sufferings could be perceived as ‘fits’ by non-believers, as products of hallucination and hysteria.42 They took care to dissociate the stigmatics from such accounts by emphasising the stigmatics’ healthy nature, the absence of a nervous disposition.43
Comparisons between stigmatics and hysterics, especially when their corporeal comportment was concerned, were widespread. A notorious example is Désiré Bourneville’s book on Louise Lateau (1875) Louise Lateau, ou la stigmatisée belge. He picked the theme up again in his books with Paul Regnard (Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière).44 In these publications, Louise’s contorted body and ecstatic trance were reduced to hysterical fits. The various movements were perceived as more or less fixed stages of a hysterical episode denoted with religiously inspired names such as ‘crucifixion’ or ‘passion’.45←72 | 73→
Half a century later, the supporters of Neumann still felt the need to reject the association. Jeanne Danemarie, for instance, tried to prove her point by comparing the ecstasies of Therese Neumann and those of mental patients: ‘Concerning the ecstasies, false ecstasies observed in the Salpêtrière are marked with convulsive and repugnant movements, whereas the real ecstasy has an aspect of dignity and calmness.’46 In fact, as another visitor of Therese Neumann tried to explain, even though witnessing the events could be an emotionally moving experience, the ecstasies were not repugnant:
However shocking these ecstasies are, they are not repugnant, every movement is gracious, the hands are, in so far as they are not covered in blood, as if transparent, one almost senses their interaction with a purer, higher world.47
We have to note here that in the personal accounts of Louise and Therese on their ecstatic experiences, the stigmatics did not ‘become’ Christ in their visions, they ‘only’ witnessed his passion from close by. As Therese described it:
…during the vision, I contemplate. I am so exclusively occupied by the dear Lord that I do not have the time to think about myself. If, when I see the excessive suffering of Jesus, I undergo the same pain and suffer with him, at that moment, I hardly feel my personal pain. I start to feel the pains as my own, as belonging to me, immediately after the vision is interrupted and Jesus has disappeared from my eyes.48←73 | 74→
So during their visions they contemplate the passion and crucifixion rather than undergo it even though the bodily ‘signs’ seem to suggest otherwise. Rather than suffering through the ‘passion’, theirs is a ‘com-passion’, they are commiserating. The stigmatics witnessing the passion rather than becoming Christ in their visions seem to suggest that they differed from their precursors of, for instance, the sixteenth century like Catherine of Sienna: ‘presenting a saintly woman who was united to Christ in body and soul, and became one and the same as Jesus’.49
The physical aspect of the stigmatics’ suffering is not necessarily the central aspect, in fact a stigmatic could perfectly do without the visible stigmata, and several stigmatics were said to have prayed for the physical, visible signs of their sufferings to disappear. They could, however, not do without the suffering. Or as Jeanne Danemarie phrased it in 1933 ‘The stigmatisation without pain cannot be a true stigmatisation. One has to suffer, suffer together with Christ.’50←74 | 75→
Having invisible stigmata was described as an ideal as it implied having the pain but not drawing the public’s attention. Both Louise and Therese, however, had visible stigmata; and their bodies in ecstasy gave physiological signs (cramps, twisted feet, etc.) indicating the pain they were suffering through. This visible pain had an effect on those who witnessed it. Through this emotional effect, the visibility of the stigmata (in contrast to the ‘more humble’ invisible ones) became meaningful. The visitors needed to see the physical pain so they could be reminded of Christ’s sufferings and touched by the intensity of His pain.51 The visit descriptions are thus a perfect way to study what Javier Moscoso calls the ‘performative nature of pain’: ‘This long pain drama twists and turns between the central actor, who is the person in pain, and the sympathetic or impassive onlooker, as each seeks to inculcate pain with meaning and value.’52 In the cases studied here, the visit in itself became a painful, emotional experience. So the second level of pain we need to address is that of the beholders –their sorrow and sadness on witnessing this suffering. The reports on their visits show how, for them, it was not the suffering of Louise or Theresa they witnessed, but that of Christ himself. Their pain is on an emotional level, a ‘compassion’.
Seeing a stigmatic suffer incited feelings one should, ideally, also experience when contemplating the crucifix or praying the Stages of the cross. A telling example is the report of R.P. Dr Joh. Brinkmann, O.S.B. on his visits to Therese Neumann in a periodical dedicated to the German stigmatic, the Chronique de Konnersreuth (Chronical of Konnersreuth) in 1929:
…the sight of the patient has nothing repugnant; one sees on her face a compassion so dolorous that one forgets Therese of Konnersreuth and one believes one sees only the suffering of the Saviour on the Cross. The commiserating expression of her physiognomy, her eyes without sight and full of blood, the movement of her hands trying to give support, her bloody and convulsive body, all that brings the crucified Saviour so well to mind that one cannot but think: ‘What stone do we carry in our chest where the heart should be, to see such suffering and still commit new sins?’53
In the words of Na’ama Cohen Hanegbi, we can describe the emotions the witnesses felt as an ‘emotional pain’, that is, ‘a type of pain which can be defined as emotional, it is primarily felt in the psyche/soul and has either secondary or no physical manifestation.’54 This compassion was often tied up with feelings of shame, shame about what the Saviour had gone through for the benefit of mankind. The emotions felt on these occasions, quite frequently (so the publications suggest), led to conversions, or promises to mend one’s ways, a moment of change. It was a productive (emotional) pain not seldom without the physically visible effects such as the visitors leaving the stigmatic’s room in tears.←75 | 76→
Finally, by elaborating on their own emotional suffering and extensive descriptions of the stigmatics’ physical suffering, the authors wanted to generate ‘compassion’ among their readers as well. ‘May this message of suffering not pass by ineffectively, and let us suffer and pray together with Therese Neumann so we may come closer and closer to the divine love tragedy of Golgotha.’55 In this respect, publishing on visits fits what Monique Scheer has called ‘mobilising’ emotional practices.56 Ideally, the descriptions of these sufferings incited the readers to rethink their own capability to cope with suffering, to suffer through it with patience.57 For, as Dewachter noted in his book on Therese Neumann, ‘as soon as the slightest disease tortures us, we run to every possible pilgrimage site, just to get healthy again, we do not think about enduring the suffering with patience, to see it as a gift, a favour.’58
On all three levels of suffering we have discussed here, thinking about Christ’s passion incited compassion –in the case of the stigmatics this evolved into a corporealisation of the physical aspects of the passion. Contemplating Christ’s passion ideally generated pain, an emotional pain of compassion and shame (and in the case of the stigmatics also a physical one). This pain, however, was always productive and brought the faithful to reflect on the states of their souls and come to a deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice. Or, as Dewachter noted about the bloody tears of Therese Neumann:←76 | 77→
Tears of compassion, tears of sadness for one’s own imperfection, tears of grief at the sight of the suffering master. Also this message does the simple farm girl bring to the modern world: the deeper experience and contemplation of the suffering Christ.59
In this respect the visitors’ reports resemble the late-medieval ‘pathopoiea’ and affective piety studied by Herman Roodenburg. The nineteenth-and twentieth-century sources seem to echo those of the thirteenth century when ‘preachers sought to craft the emotions of the faithful through a range of devotional practices, all oriented to the humanity of Christ, his physical agony in particular, and encompassing both the body and the senses.’60 In fact, we can detect other thirteenth-century echoes as well, in particular the Stabat Mater theme reoccurs.
Stabat Mater Dolorosa
Notwithstanding the obvious Christocentric aspect of the stigmatic experience, this contemplative and commiserative aspect complicates our understanding of the stigmatic as alter Christ. It does help, however, to understand the references to the Mater dolorosa in the descriptions of both Louise Lateau and Theresa Neumann. They were Christ-like but for the visitors their female bodies do not ‘disappear’ completely during the ecstasies:61
There is nothing more moving than seeing the young girl unmoving and silent, permanently in ecstasy and some way showing the facial features of the mother of sadness, as she has been depicted by one of our greatest painters.62 (Louise Lateau)←77 | 78→
No one of us dares to breath. All are fixed with their gaze on that heavenly image of suffering: a living fac simile of the Master, an overly beautiful Mater Dolorosa.63 (Therese Neumann)
While we do not want to suggest that the Mater dolorosa description is the most dominant theme in the elaborations on the stigmatics’ suffering, it does encourage us to have a more open view on the perception of the stigmatics and on suffering: Maria’s suffering is a compassionate suffering and as mater dolo-rosa she is an inextricable part of Christ’s passion. She is in pain –not inflicted by violence as her son’s pain is, but by viewing his physical suffering, she suffers emotionally. In fact, her witnessing Christ’s suffering recalled the words of the Stabat Mater (dolorosa). This thirteenth-century poem of Mother Mary’s suffering at the bottom of Christ’s Cross was cited at the start of Odo Staudinger’s book on Therese Neumann. He encouraged his readers to call upon Mary:
May she, who even more than Therese Neumann has looked upon the pains of the Crucified and experienced them, grant every reader the grace we beseech in the Stabat mater…. Holy Mother, grant that the wounds of the Crucified drive deep into my heart (‘Sancta Mater, istud agas: Crucifixi fixe plagas Cordi meo valide’).64
Authors need a reference point to give their readers an idea of what they are seeing. In this case, the authors refer to either the pictorial rendering of the Mater dolorosa or her literary equivalent, the stabat mater. References to these images show how the visitors made sense of the experience by placing them in a Catholic culture of suffering, with the passion of Christ and suffering of Mary at its pinnacle. However, the identification of the Virgin with the stigmatic also seems to have worked the other way around. When Johannes Mayrhofer described his visit to Theresia Neumann in 1926, he compared her ecstasies to what he had seen at the Passion play in Oberammergau:←78 | 79→
When I, in future, want to imagine this encounter on the way of the cross, this scene of a truly terrible tragic, I cannot picture it in another way, as when I give Mary the characteristics of the suffering soul of Konnersreuth and the painful extended arms, and the hands locked together in the deepest compassion, as I have seen it there.65
More work needs to be done on this and we need to find out whether there are references to the Mater dolorosa in descriptions of older stigmatics as well. For our story here, may it suffice to say that the type of suffering described defined the gendered image that was adopted: in descriptions of the emotional, compassionate pain, the Mater dolorosa is the point of reference; in the passages on the physical horror, the suffering Christ is referred to. The pain of the stigmatic seems to have turned these women into ambivalent beings –symbols of Christ’s and Mary’s pain. There is no clear-cut gender shift as their pain is more complex than ‘mere’ physical suffering.
Everything was calm and still, everyone was moved, for in Louise one could see the suffering Saviour and the aching mother at the same time. O, what an image of suffering! I will never forget it.66
When the banned Prussian priest Fox tried to explain to his readers what he was seeing, he described Louise Lateau as a combination of the two, the suffering son and his suffering mother. In combining the two he turned the stigmatic into an ever stronger image of Catholic suffering, an inextricable combination of passion and com-passion. This dual image of the stigmatic only makes sense if we take into account their ‘emotional’ suffering as well –the reflective practice ‘behind’ the stigmata: that is, contemplating the passion and having compassion with Christ.←79 | 80→
The pain this implied was evaluated in a positive way: it could encourage people to turn their lives around (the onlookers and readers), and it was cleansing and reparatory (at least that of the stigmatics). This positive take on pain also explains why visitors and readers were encouraged to imitate the stigmatics. Not physically, but emotionally. The ‘suffering’ of the stigmatics was a suffering that might be imitated by the visitors and their readers via their own, more ‘traditional’ religious practices. While not everyone could go and see the ecstatic episodes of a stigmatic, they could cultivate the same feelings via religious exercises like the contemplation of the crucifix and praying the stages of the Cross. Compassionate suffering was an ideal and an ideal that the readers could attain themselves.67
Anonymous, ‘Konnersreuth –un message au prolétariat’, in Chronique de Konnersreuth (1929), pp. 30−38.
Anonymous, La stigmatise de Bois-d’Haine, par Mgr ***, Paris 1871.
Anonymous, Louisa Lateau of de kruiswonddragende van Bois-d’Haine in Henegauw gevolgd door de levensbeschrijving van Maria von Moerl de kruiswonddragende van den Tyrol. Nieuwe vermeerderde uitgaaf, Gent 1869.
Bourneville, Désiré Magliore, Louise Lateau, ou la stigmatisée belge, Paris 1875.
Bourneville, Désiré Magliore & Paul Regnard, Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, Paris: Progrès médical, 3 vols., 1876−1880, vol. 1, 1877.
Chronique de Konnersreuth, 1929.
Danemarie, Jeanne, Le mystère des stigmatisés, De Catherine Emmerich à Thérèse Neumann. Epilogue de Georges Goyau de l’Académie Française, Paris 1933.
De Hovre, Eug., Therese Neumann: Het levend raadsel van Konnersreuth, Brugge 1931.
Dewachter, R., Therese Neumann, Turnhout 1932.
Dewachter, R., Bekeerlingen von Konnersreuth, Turnhout 1935.
Eskeland, Lars, Mijn bezoek aan Theresia Neumann, Mechelen 1932.
Fink, Une visite chez Thérèse Neumann, la stigmatisée de Konnersreuth (Traduit de l’allemand par P.R.), Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) 1930.←80 | 81→
Fox, A., Louise Lateau, die wunderbar begnadigte Jungfrau von Bois d’Haine, zur Belehrung und Erbauung für alle Stände, Regensburg 1878.
Louise Lateau devant l’Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique, Mouscroun/Tourcoing 1876.
Huybers, A., Naar en rond Konnersreuth: Persoonlijke indrukken en beschouwingen van onderweg enter plaatse, ’s Hertogenbosch s.d.
Mayrhofer, Johannes, Konnersreuth, Regensburg 1926.
Parcot, L., Ce que j’ai vu à Konnersreuth: La stigmatisée Thérèse Neumann (3rd ed.), Paris 1937.
Staudinger, Odo O.S.B., Die Leidensblume von Konnersreuth, Kremsmünster 1930.
Staudinger, Odo O.S.B., Le sauveur est bon! (Paroles favorites de Thérèse Neumann). Prières exaucées et conversions étonnantes par Konnersreuth (traduit de l’Allemand, par L. Perrod) Editions Salvator Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin), 1932.
Van Looy, Henri, Biographie de Louise Lateau: La stigmatisée de Bois-D’Haine, d’après les documents authentiques, seconde édition améliorée et augmentée, Paris/Leipzig/Tournai 1874.
von Heuder, Jules, La stigmatisé de Bois d’Haine, Louise Lateau, citée au tribunal de la science, s.d., s.p.
Waitz, Le message de Konnersreuth, La stigmatisée Thérèse Neumann, Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) 1930.
Aubert, Roger, ‘Licht und Schatten der katholischen Vitalität’, in Roger Aubert et al. (eds), Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte, vol. VI/1, Freiburg 1985, pp. 650−682.
Boddice, Rob ‘Introduction: Hurt Feelings? ’, in Rob Boddice (ed.), Pain and Emotion in Modern History, Basingstoke 2014, pp. 1−15.
Bouflet, Joachim, Les stigmatisés, Paris 1996.
Bourke Joanna, The story of pain: From prayer to painkillers, Oxford 2014.
Cohen Hanegbi, Na’ama, ‘Pain as emotion: The role of emotional pain in fifteenth-century Italian medicine and confession’, in At the Interface/Probing the Boundaries, 84 (2012), pp. 63−82.
Didi-Huberman, Georges, Invention de l’hystérie: Charcot et l’Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, Paris 1982.
Gißibl, Bernhard, Frömmigkeit, Hysterie und Schwärmerei: Wunderbare Erscheinungen im bayerischen Vormärz, Frankfurt am Main 2004.←81 | 82→
Goldstein, Jan, ‘The hysteria diagnosis and the politics of anticlericalism in late nineteenth-century France’, in The Journal of Modern History, 54/2 (1982), pp. 209−239.
Freytag, Niels & Diethard Sawicki, ‘Verzauberte Moderne. Kulturgeschichtliche Perspektiven auf das 19. und 20. Jahrhundert’, in Niels Freytag & Diethard Sawicki (eds), Wunderwelten: Religiöse Ekstase und Magie in der Moderne, München 2006.
Herzig, Tamar, ‘Stigmatized holy women as female Christs’, in Gábor Klaniczay (ed.), ‘Discorsi sulle stimmate dal Medioevo all’età contemporanea’, Archivio italiano per la storia della pietà, 26 (2013), pp. 151−175.
Hide, Louise, Joanna Bourke, & Carmen Mangion, ‘Introduction: Perspectives on Pain’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 15, 2012, pp. 1−8.
Hoegaerts, Josephine & Tine Van Osselaer, ‘De lichamelijkheid van emoties: een introductie’, in Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 126/4 (2013), pp. 452−465.
Kane, Paula, ‘ “She Offered Herself up”: The Victim Soul and Victim Spirituality in Catholicism’, Church History, 71/1, 2002, pp. 80−119.
Klaniczay, Gábor, ‘Louise Lateau et les stigmatisés du XIXème siècle’, in Gábor Klaniczay (ed.), ‘Discorsi sulle stimmate dal Medioevo all’età contemporanea’, Archivio italiano per la storia della pietà 26 (2013), Roma, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, pp. 279−319.
Köhler, Oskar & Günter Bandmann, ‘Formen der Frömmigkeit’, in Roger Aubert et al. (eds), Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte, vol. VI/2, Freiburg 1985, pp. 265−315.
Lux-Sterrit, Laurence & Carmen Mangion, ‘Introduction: Gender, Catholicism and women’s spirituality over the longue durée’, in Laurence Lux-Sterrit & Carmen Mangion (eds), Gender, Catholicism and spirituality, New York 2011, pp. 1−18.
Menke, Bettine, ‘Nachträglichkeiten und Beglaubigungen’, in Bettine Menke & Barbara Vinken (eds), Stigmata: Poetiken der Körperschrift, München 2004, pp. 25−43.
Moscoso, Javier, Pain: A Cultural History, Basingstoke 2012.
Pahud de Mortanges, Elke, ‘Irre –Gauklerin –Heilige? Inszenierung und Instrumentalisierung frommer Frauen im Katholizismus des 19. Jahrhunderts’, in Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Religions-und Kulturgeschichte 100 (2006), pp. 203−225.
Roodenburg, Herman, ‘Empathy in the making: Crafting the believer’s emotions in the Late Medieval Low Countries’, in Low Countries Historical Review, 129/2 (2014), pp. 42−62←82 | 83→
Scheer, Monique, ‘Verspielte Frömmigkeit: Somatische Interaktionen beim Marienerscheinungskult von Heroldsbach-Thurn 1949/50’, in Historische Anthropologie, 17/3 (2009), pp. 386−405.
Scheer, Monique, ‘Are Emotions a Kind of Practice (and Is That What Makes Them Have a History)? A Bourdieuan Approach to Defining Emotion’ in History and Theory, 51 (2012), pp. 193−220.
Scheer, Monique, ‘Das Medium hat ein Geschlecht’, in Hubert Wolf (ed.), ‘Wahre’ und ‘ falsche’ Heiligkeit: Mystik, Macht und Geschlechterrollen im Katholizismus des 19. Jahrhunderts, München 2013, pp. 169−192.
Van Osselaer, Tine, ‘Stigmatic women in modern Europe: An exploratory note on gender, corporeality and Catholic culture’, in Michel Mazoyer and Paul Mirault (eds), Évolutions et transformations du mariage dans le christianisme, Paris 2017, pp. 269–289.
Von Tippelskirch, Xenia, ‘ “Ma fille, je te la donne par modèle”: Sainte Catherine de Sienne et les stigmatisées du XVIIème siècle’, in Gábor Klaniczay (ed.), ‘Discorsi sulle stimmate dal Medioevo all’età contemporanea’, Archivio italiano per la storia della pietà: 26 (2013), Roma, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, pp. 274−277.
Von Tippelskirch, Xenia, ‘ “J’y souffre ce qui ne peut comprendre ni exprimer”. Eine Mystikerin leidet unter Gottverlassenheit (1673/74)’, in Historische Anthropologie, 23/1 (2015), pp. 11−29.
*This chapter was written within the context of the ERC-starting-grant project ‘Between saints and celebrities. The devotion and promotion of stigmatics in Europe, c. 1800−1950’ (grant number 637908). It was first published in Portuguese: ‘Dor, paixão et compaixão: Mulheres estigmatizadas na Europa contemporânea (Pain, passion and compassion. Writing on stigmatic women in Modern Europe)’, in J.L. Fontes, F. Andrade & T. Pires-Marques (eds), Género e interioridade na vida religiosa: conceitos, contextos e práticas, Lisboa 2017, pp. 169–188.
1Bettine Menke, ‘Nachträglichkeiten und Beglaubigungen’, in Bettine Menke & Barbara Vinken (eds), Stigmata: Poetiken der Körperschrift, München 2004, pp. 25−43, 32.
2For an overview, see Tine Van Osselaer ‘Stigmatic women in modern Europe. An exploratory note on gender, corporeality and Catholic culture’, in Michel Mazoyer & Paul Mirault (eds), Évolutions et transformations du mariage dans le christianisme, Paris 2017, pp. 269–289; Monique Scheer, ‘Das Medium hat ein Geschlecht’, in Hubert Wolf (ed.), ‘Wahre’ und ‘ falsche’ Heiligkeit: Mystik, Macht und Geschlechterrollen im Katholizismus des 19. Jahrhunderts, München 2013, pp. 169−192.
3Elke Pahud de Mortanges, ‘Irre –Gauklerin –Heilige? Inszenierung und Instrumentalisierung frommer Frauen im Katholizismus des 19. Jahrhunderts’, in Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Religions-und Kulturgeschichte 100 (2006), pp. 203−225. Bernhard Gißibl, Frömmigkeit, Hysterie und Schwärmerei: Wunderbare Erscheinungen im bayerischen Vormärz. Frankfurt am Main 2004.
4‘Die größere Zahl der Stigmatisierten Frauen ist wohl begründet im tieferen Gefühlsleben der Frau, in ihrer größeren Neigung zu religiöser Schwärmerei, in der durch die Menstruation bedingten besonderer körperlichen Disposition des weiblichen Geschlechtes und dessen mehr zu Hysterie und ähnlichen nervösen Störungen neigenden Veranlagung […]’: Wilhelm Jacobi, Die Stigmatisierten. Berlin 1923, p. 3.
5Laurence Lux-Sterrit & Carmen Mangion, ‘Introduction. Gender, Catholicism and women’s spirituality over the longue durée’, in Laurence Lux-Sterrit & Carmen Mangion (eds), Gender, Catholicism and spirituality: Women and the Roman Catholic Church in Britain and Europe, 1200−1900, New York 2011, pp. 1−18.
6Paula Kane, ‘ “She Offered Herself up”: The Victim Soul and Victim Spirituality in Catholicism’, in Church History 71/1 (2002), pp. 80−119, 88, 112 and 115.
7Louise Hide, Joanna Bourke & Carmen Mangion, ‘Introduction. Perspectives on Pain. 19’, in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century 15 (2012), pp. 1−8, 1; Joanna Bourke, The story of pain: From prayer to painkillers, Oxford 2014, pp. 6−8, 12: it is historically flexible and historically complex: ‘Being-in-pain is a multifaceted sensory, cognitive, affective, motivational, and temporal phenomenon.’ Rob Boddice, ‘Introduction: Hurt Feelings?’, in Rob Boddice (ed.), Pain and Emotion in Modern History, Basingstoke 2014, pp. 1−15, 2: ‘… what we make of pain –how we translate states of suffering –is also dependent on time and place’.
8Javier Moscoso, Pain: A Cultural History, Basingstoke 2012, p. 2: about experience: ‘Under the umbrella of this term, experience, the body does not separate from the soul, the material from the spiritual, the self from the other. Sensorial elements do not exclude emotional reactions, nor do the visible forms of cruelty or harm exhaust the sphere of historical research.’
9Bourke 2014, p. 91; Kane 2002, p. 87: ‘At least since the late Middle Ages, therefore, pain was something to be interpreted variously by Catholics as a punishment for sin, a trial from God, or a vehicle for transcendence.’
10Xenia Von Tippelskirch, ‘ “Ma fille, je te la donne par modèle”. Sainte Catherine de Sienne et les stigmatisées du XVIIème siècle’, in Gábor Klaniczay (ed.), ‘Discorsi sulle stimmate dal Medioevo all’età contemporanea’, Archivio italiano per la storia della pietà, 26 (2013), Roma, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, p. 259, footnote 2.
11As von Tipppelskirch notes, there was a reinvention of the stigmata of the previous centuries: pain and suffering called for proof, visible pain and stigmata could erase doubts. Von Tippelskirch 2013, pp. 274−277.
12Anton Mayer ‘Die Stellung der Liturgie von der Zeit der Romantik bis zur Jahrhundertwende’, Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft, 3/1 (1953), pp. 1−77, 49−50.
13Oskar Köhler & Günter Bandmann, ‘Formen der Frömmigkeit’, in Roger Aubert et al. (eds), Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte, vol. VI/2, Freiburg 1985, pp. 265−315, p. 265. That piety grew more individualistic in nineteenth century was according to Roger Aubert partly due to Jesuits (e.g. the practice of silent prayer). Roger Aubert, ‘Licht und Schatten der katholischen Vitalität ’, in Roger Aubert et al. (eds), Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte, vol. VI/1, Freiburg 1985, pp. 650−682, p. 663.
14Aubert 1985, pp. 664−666.
15Kane 2002, p. 82.
16Kane 2002, p. 83
17Niels Freytag & Diethard Sawicki, ‘Verzauberte Moderne: Kulturgeschichtliche Perspektiven auf das 19. und 20. Jahrhundert’, Niels Freytag & Diethard Sawicki (eds), Wunderwelten: Religiöse Ekstase und Magie in der Moderne, München 2006, pp. 7−24, p. 16.
18‘La multiplication des nouvelles stigmatisés alimentant un mouvement dévot international visant à soutenir les tentatives de l’Église Catholique pour regagner ses positions antérieures.’ Gábor Klaniczay, ‘Louise Lateau et les stigmatisés du XIXème siècle’, in Gábor Klaniczay (ed.), Discorsi sulle stimmate dal Medioevo all’età contemporanea, Archivio italiano per la storia della pietà 26 (2013), pp. 279−319, p. 294.
19Freytag & Sawicki 2006, p. 21.
20Pahud de Mortanges 2006, p. 203.
21‘La soumission à la volonté de Dieu et le zèle des âmes déterminaient aussi Thérèse à faire le sacrifice si grand pour elle de renoncer à la vie cachée. Elle est convaincue que Dieu veut l’employer au service des âmes.’ Odo Staudinger, O.S.B., Le sauveur est bon! (Paroles favorites de Thérèse Neumann). Prières exaucées et conversions étonnantes par Konnersreuth (traduit de l’Allemand, par L. Perrod), Editions Salvator Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) 1932, p. 68.
22Otto Weiß ‘Stigmata. Legitimationszeichen von Heiligkeit?’, in Hubert Wolf (ed.) ‘Wahre’ und ‘ falsche’ Heiligkeit: Mystik, Macht und Geschlechterrollen im Katholizismus des 19. Jahrhunderts, München: Oldenburg 2013, pp. 11−127; Waltraud Pulz (ed.), Zwischen Himmel und Erde: Körperliche Zeichen der Heiligkeit, Stuttgart 2012.
23‘Comment prononcer le nom de Louise Lateau sans se rappeler aussitôt tout le bruit qu’il a provoqué? Livres de science et de philosophie, rapports officiels, discours académiques, comptes rendus de visites, feuilletons, conférences, pamphlets, feuille-tons, conférences, pamphlets, articles de journaux, tousles genres littéraires ont été mis à contribution pour entretenir le public de la stigmatisée de Bois d’Haine.’ Louise Lateau devant l’Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique, Mouscroun /Tourcoing: Augustin Boisleux, 1876, p. 3.
24Archives of the Seminary of Tournay, Louise Lateau, K.4 box with the names of the visitors.
25‘Il y a dans cette relation beaucoup de traits–paroles et faits –qui sont ou bien étranges, ou bien peu conformes au sens chrétiens, ou bien même contraires à la doctrine catholique.’ Archives of the Archdiocese of Mechelen, Van Roey, apparitions, 20; Lucie Schmit-Klaer, negative evaluation by Van Roey on 22 February 1927.
26‘…c’est là le côté principal, qui doit server d’édification au prochain, ranimer sa foi et le porter à glorifier le seigneur, dont le propre est de se servir de ce qui paraît le plus humble dans le monde, lorsqu’il veut faire de grandes choses.’ Henri Van Looy, Biographie de Louise Lateau: La stigmatisée de Bois-D’Haine, d’après les documents authentiques, seconde édition améliorée et augmentée, Paris/Leipzig/Tournai 1874, p. 7. Or on Therese Neumann: ‘Because this literature mostly has a beneficent effect on the reader and may thus be called an apostleship of the first category.’ ‘Omdat zulke lektuur in de meeste gevallen heilwerkend inslaat bij den lezer, en daardoor een apostolaat mag geheeten worden van eerste gehalte.’ R. Dewachter, Therese Neumann. Turnhout 1932, p. 10.
27Dewachter 1932, p. 54.
28Danemarie 1933, p. 227.
29For example, about Theresa Neumann: Anon. ‘ Konnersreuth –un message au prolétariat’, in Chronique de Konnersreuth 1929, pp. 30−38, 31−32.
30See the handwritten note on the cover of Un pèlerinage à Bois d’Haine (1871), the same text as La stigmatisée de Bois d’Haine preserved in the library of the Ruusbroec Institute.
31Anonymus, La stigmatisée de Bois-d’Haine, par Mgr ***, Paris 1871, p. VI. Similarly, Anonymus, Louisa Lateau of de kruiswonddragende van Bois-d’Haine in Henegauw gevolgd door de levensbeschrijving van Maria von Moerl de kruiswonddragende van den Tyrol, Nieuwe vermeerderde uitgaaf, Gent 1869, p. 3−4. The Norwegian convert Lars Eskeland formulates a similar goal for his book on Therese Neumann. Lars Eskeland, Mijn bezoek aan Theresia Neumann, Mechelen1932, p. 101.
32August Rohling, Louise Lateau: Die Stigmatisierte von Bois d’Haine. Nach authentischen medicinischen und theologischen Documenten für Juden und Christen aller Bekenntnisse, Paderborn 1874.
33Summarised in Xenia von Tippelskirch, ‘ “J’y souffre ce qui ne peut comprendre ni exprimer”. Eine Mystikerin leidet unter Gottverlassenheit (1673/74)’, in Historische Anthropologie, 23/1 (2015), pp. 11−29, 19, footnote 40.
34Monique Scheer, ‘Verspielte Frömmigkeit: Somatische Interaktionen beim Marienerscheinungskult von Heroldsbach-Thurn 1949/50’, in Historische Anthropologie, 17/3 (2009), pp. 386−405; Josephine Hoegaerts & Tine Van Osselaer, ‘De lichamelijkheid van emoties: een introductie’, in Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 126/4 (2013), pp. 452−465.
35Boddice 2014, p. 3.
36‘Que dire ensuite de ses souffrances intérieures, produites non-seulement par les désolations de l’esprit, mais par les lumières divines elles-mêmes qui frappent son âme, ou par le rappel fréquent qui l’arrache à son union avec Dieu? Ce genre de souffrances est incompréhensible pour Louise elle-même.’ Henri Van Looy, Biographie de Louise Lateau, 1874, pp. 151−152.
37‘Elle expie pour les âmes défuntes. Ce sont alors des souffrances spirituelles, une indescriptible tristesse, un désir ardent du Sauveur qui s’éloigne.’ Jeanne Danemarie, Le mystère des stigmatisés: De Catherine Emmerich à Thérèse Neumann. Epilogue de Georges Goyau de l’Académie Française, Paris 1933, p. 198; R. Dewachter, Bekeerlingen von Konnersreuth, Turnhout1935, p. 67: ‘geestelijke ontsteltenis en leegte waren die Therese zoozeer kwelden.’
38‘J’ai vu un crucifix vivant, sculpté, marqué des plaies du Christ, rappelant aux hommes oublieux et ingrats le Rédempteur qui veut les diviniser à sa suite. […] Ce rappel de la Passion du Christ sur une créature vivante, quelqu’un l’a appelé un des facteurs de la nouvelle offensive du Christ pour attirer à Lui l’amour des hommes.’ Published under Jeanne Danemarie, Le mystère des stigmatisés, 1933, s.p.
39See Paula Kane 2002.
40‘Hier haben wir das Sühnopfer für die Verbrechen, welche in diesem Augenblicke insbesondere in Rom und Paris begangen werden; […]’ A. Fox, Louise Lateau, die wunderbar begnadigte Jungfrau von Bois d’Haine, zur Belehrung und Erbauung für alle Stände, Regensburg 1878, pp. 76−77. Similarly: Van Looy, Biographie, 1874, p. 161.
41Bourke 2014, p. 129. See also her comments on the ‘cleansing’ power of pain: p. 95: ‘Whether sin was intrinsic to what it meant to be descendants of Adam or a punishment for personal misbehaviour, Christians could be cleansed of its stain through the experience of pain in this world, an intermediate world (for Roman Catholics), or the everlasting world of hell. To avoid the latter, purification through bodily suffering was necessary.’
42Paul Münch, Erfahrung als Kategorie der Frühneuzeitgeschichte, München 2001, p. 17: ‘Schon lange wissen auch Historiker, dass die individuellen Erfahrungen vergangener Zeiten in gesellschaftliche Kontexte eingelagert sind, weil sie als einverleibte und erinnerte Vergangenheit notwendigerweise auf den Erfahrungen anderer aufbauen. Jede individuelle Erfahrung enthält per se ein, wenn auch nur‚ schwer quantifizierbares, Moment an Vergesellschaftung’.
43For a neurotic interpretation of Louise, see, for example, Jules von Heuder, La stigmatisée de Bois d’Haine, Louise Lateau, citée au tribunal de la science, s.d., s.p.; ‘hysterical womenfolk’, Eug. De Hovre, Therese Neumann: Het levend raadsel van Konnersreuth, Brugge 1931, p. 83; Dewachter, 1932: ‘Ze weet heel goed dat ze voor velen slechts als een hysterische doorgaat.’
44Désiré Magliore Bourneville, Louise Lateau, ou la stigmatisée belge. Paris: 1875. Désiré Magliore Bourneville & Paul Regnard, Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, Paris, 3 vols., 1876−1880, vol. 1, 1877.
45On the new definition of hysteria in France and the religious connotation, see Jan Goldstein, ‘The hysteria diagnosis and the politics of anticlericalism in late nineteenth-century France’, in The Journal of Modern History, 54/2 (1982), pp. 209−239; Didi-Huberman Georges, Invention de l’hystérie: Charcot et l’Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, Paris 1982.
46‘Quant aux extases, les fausses extases observées à la Salpêtrière sont marquées par des mouvements convulsifs et répugnants, alors que la vraie extase garde à l’extatique un aspect plein de dignité et de calme.’ Danemarie 1933, p. 224.
47‘So erschütterend diese Ekstasen sind, so haben sie doch nie etwas Abstoßendes, jede Bewegung ist edel, die Hände sind, soweit sie nicht von Blut bedeckt sind, wie durchsichtig, man spürt beinahe ihren Verkehr mit einer reineren, höheren Welt.’ Odo Staudinger 1930, p. 42.
48‘Pendant la vision je contemple. Je suis alors si exclusivement occupée du cher sauveur que je n’ai pas le temps de penser à moi-même. Si en voyant la souffrance excessive de Jésus, j’éprouve aussi de la douleur et souffre avec lui, cependant, à ce moment, je sens peu ma douleur personnelle (litt.: ma douleur vient à peine à la conscience expresse). Je commence à éprouver directement les douleurs comme miennes, comme m’appartenant, quand la vision est interrompue et que Jésus a disparu à mes yeux.’ L. Parcot, Ce que j’ai vu à Konnersreuth: La stigmatisée Thérèse Neumann (3de ed.), Paris 1937, p. 93.
49Tamar Herzig, ‘Stigmatized holy women as female Christs’, in Gábor Klaniczay (ed.), ‘Discorsi sulle stimmate dal Medioevo all’età contemporanea’, Archivio italiano per la storia della pietà, 26 (2013), pp. 151−175, 157 and 173: their faces turning into that of Jesus for witnesses who doubted authenticity.
50‘La stigmatisation sans douleur ne peut pas être une stigmatisation véritable. Il faut souffrir, compatir avec le Christ.’ Danemarie 1933, p. 134.
51On the interaction of physical pain and the affective component: Boddice 2014, p. 4: ‘Put another way, physical pain is not meaningful without some or all of these things or without some other affective component (even pleasure, joy or ecstasy). Nor is pain, insofar as the experience is concerned, really conceivable without these affective components.’ (Feelings hurt.) On the theatralisation of the Passion of Christ and educative function of the ecstatic experience, see Bouflet 1996, pp. 29−30.
52As summarised by Hide, Bourke & Mangion 2012, p. 2.
53‘Malgré cela l’aspect de la patiente n’a rien de repoussant; on voit sur son visage une compassion si douloureuse qu’on oublie Thérèse de Konnersreuth et qu’on ne croit voir que la souffrance du Sauveur sur la Croix. L’ expression apitoyée de sa physionomie, ses yeux sans regard et pleins de sang, le mouvement de ses mains qui cherchent à porter secours, son corps ensanglanté et convulsé, tout cela met si bien sous vos yeux le Sauveur crucifié, que malgré soi on est obligé de penser: ‘Quelle pierre portons nous donc dans notre poitrine à la place du coeur, pour voir une telle souffrance et cependant commettre de nouveaux péchés?’. R.P. Dr. Joh. Brinkmann, O.S.B. on his visits to Therese Neumann in ‘Visites’, Chronique de Konnersreuth, 1929, pp. 234−257, 246.
54She studied this type of pain in the fifteenth century. Na’ama Cohen Hanegbi, ‘Pain as emotion: The role of emotional pain in fifteenth-century Italian medicine and confession’, in At the Interface/Probing the Boundaries, 84 (2012), pp. 63−82.
55‘Laten we deze lijdensboodschap niet nutteloos voorbijgaan, en lijden en bidden wij met Therese Neumann om dichter en dichter te mogen naderen tot het goddelijk liefdedrama van Golgotha.’ Dewachter, 1932, p. 32.
56Monique Scheer, ‘Are Emotions a Kind of Practice (and Is That What Makes Them Have a History)? A Bourdieuan Approach to Defining Emotion’, in History and Theory, 51 (2012), pp. 193−220.
57Moscoso 2012, p. 24: ‘The physical resistance of these venerable beings determines how much our ailments may hurt and how exaggerated our lamentations can be. Compared with theirs, our hardships are meagre and our complaints out of proportion.’
58‘Van zoohaast de minste ziekte ons kwelt, loopen we alle mogelijke bedevaartplaatsen af, om toch maar weer gezond te worden, en we denken er niet aan dat lijden te dragen met verduldigheid, en het te aanzien als eene genade, een weldaad.’ Dewachter, 1932, p. 11.
59‘Tranen van medelijden, tranen van droefenis om de eigen onvolmaaktheid, tranen van smart bij ‘t aanschouwen van den lijdenden Meester. Ook die boodschap brengt dat eenvoudige boerenmeisjes aan de moderne wereld: de diepere beleving en kontemplatie van het lijden Christi.’ Dewachter, 1932, p. 30.
60Herman Roodenburg, ‘Empathy in the making: Crafting the believer’s emotions in the Late Medieval Low Countries’, in Low Countries Historical Review, 129/2 (2014), pp. 42−62.
61However, Therese’s mother is also described in terms of the Stabat Mater: Fink, Une visite chez Thérèse Neumann, la stigmatisée de Konnersreuth (Traduit de l’allemand par P.R.), Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) 1930, p. 16.
62‘Ook is er niets aandoenlijker dan het jong meisje onbeweeglijk en stilzwijgend, gestadig in opgetogenheid te zien en eeniger wijze de gelaatstrekken verbeeldende van die moeder van droefheid, gelijk zij door eenen onzer grootste schilders is afgemaald geweest., Anonymus, Louisa Lateau of de kruiswonddragende van Bois-d’Haine in Henegauw gevolgd door de levensbeschrijving van Maria von Moerl de kruiswonddragende van den Tyrol, Nieuwe vermeerderde uitgaaf, Gent 1869 p. 8.
63‘Niemand van ons durft te ademhalen. Allen hangen met hun blik vastgekluisterd aan dat hemelsch beeld van lijden: een leven fac-simile van den Meester, een overschoone Mater Dolorosa…’, Dewachter, 1932, p. 121.
64‘Möge sie, die noch mehr als Therese Neumann die schmerzen des Gekreuzigten geschaut und empfunden hat, jedem Leser und mir die Gnade erbitten, um die wir im Stabat mater flehen: “Sancta Mater, istud agas: Crucifixi fixe plagas Cordi meo valide. Heilige Mutter, drück‘ die Wunden, die dein Sohn am Kreuz empfunden,Tief in meine Seele ein!” ’ (on strophe 11) P. Odo Staudinger O.S.B., Die Leidensblume von Konnersreuth, Kremsmünster 1930, p. 5.
65‘Wenn ich mir jetzt in Zukunft wieder diese Begegnung auf dem Kreuzweg, diese Szene einer wahrhaft gewaltigen Tragik, vorstellen will, kann ich sie mir nicht anders ausmalen, als indem ich Maria die Züge der Dulderin von Konnersreuth gebe und die schmerzvoll ausgestreckten Arme, die in tiefstem Leid ineinandergeschlungen Hände, wie ich sie dort gesehen.’ (sic) Johannes Mayrhofer, Konnersreuth, Regensburg 1926, p. 11.
66‘Alles war ruhig und still; jeder war ergriffen; denn in Louise sah man den leidenden Heiland und die schmerzhafte Mutter zugleich. O, welch’ein Schmerzensbild! Nie werde ich dasselbe vergessen.’ A. Fox, Louise Lateau, die wunderbar begnadigte Jungfrau von Bois d’Haine, zur Belehrung und Erbauung für alle Stände, Regensburg 1878, p. 89.
67‘Faire le chemin de la croix, honorer les souffrances du Christ, c’est aussi se procurer à soi-même soulagement et consolations dans les souffrances, les soucis et les peines. Car le Sauveur rend au centuple ce que l’on a fait pour lui.’ Waitz, Le message de Konnersreuth, La stigmatisée Thérèse Neumann, Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) 1930, p. 45.