Presenting a remarkable set of previously unpublished papers, this book concerns the bewitchment, possession and exorcism of two seventeenth-century nuns living in exile in an English convent in the Spanish Netherlands. The two women left behind an extensive set of personal writing that reveals unprecedented detail about their devotional lives and spiritual states before, during and after exorcism. Unlike other similar cases, here the women write for themselves; for the first time in 350 years this book allows their voices - and their silences - to resound in all their vibrancy. The language of the texts has been modernized to make the papers accessible to a wide range of readers, to expose in startling terms the nature of the women's experience and the ways in which female spiritual lives were constructed in the early modern era. An extensive introduction discusses the politics of piety and possession at a time when exorcism had become increasingly contentious, amidst conflicting claims for rival church reform. The book includes both autobiographical and biographical material, written by the nuns and about them, and casting new light on processes of female self-writing at just the time when the 'modern subject' is often said to have emerged. This book will appeal to those interested in a range of material - from early modern writing and cultural studies, to devotional history and auto/biography. Nicky Hallett has written several studies of women's religious writing and autobiography, including Lives of Spirit: English Carmelite Self-writing of the Early Modern Period, also published by Ashgate.
Table of Contents
Contents: General introduction; Sources and manuscripts; Sister Margaret's spiritual confessions: her pre-exorcism diary; Lives of Margaret of Jesus and Ursula of All Saints by their Ghostly Father Edmund Bedingfield, Canon of St Gummarus in Lier[re]: his account of their exorcism; What we particularly observed in our Reverend Mother of happy memory's constant practices in perfection and solid virtue: Sister Ursula's tribute to Margaret of Jesus; The life of Venerable Mother Margaret of Jesus, religious of the Reformed Order by Seraphicall St Teresa compiled by E: B: her ghostly father and Canon of St Gummarus in Lier[re]; The miraculous cure of Anna Maria of St Joseph and 'ye Doctours attestation that her recouery was a Miracle'; 'Some little of what has passed concerning Margaret of Jesus': accounts of Sister Margaret by other nuns; Margaret of Jesus: her life from the Lierre annals; Edmund Bedingfield: his life from the Lierre annals; Ursula of All Saints: her life from the Lierre annals; 'That above-mentioned double diabolical witchcraft'; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.