2. The Male Body and Catholic Piety in Early Modern Spain

The Religious Body Imagined - Pamela D. Winfield

Elizabeth Rhodes [+-]
Boston College
Elizabeth Rhodes is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Boston College, where she also serves on the Sexual Assault Network and teaches a course for future college teachers on responding to campus sexual assault. She specializes in religious texts and culture, particularly of Spain. Her current project discloses evidence of sexual assault of pre-adult Catholics carried out in the name of God during the early modern period. Her most recent publication analyzes the rape culture that informs the plot of one of Cervantes's 1613 exemplary novels.


It is now a truism, certainly in medieval religious studies, that Christian piety practiced by women is body-centered and affective. Reflective of ancient philosophical dichotomies that oppose spirit and matter, this tradition affiliates men with mind and reason, and women with body and emotion. These patterns became entrenched in the experience of God to the point where they formed behavior as much as they described it, and as this understanding moved into the early modern period (XV-XVII), men were increasingly less represented as having ecstatic experiences of God, and women could have no other kind. This study provides evidence from texts by and about several famous religious men of early modern Spain that women were not alone in practicing embodied piety. However, they did not write about it in public documents, on the one hand, and information about it included in early biographies of them was systematically erased, on the other.

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Rhodes, Elizabeth. 2. The Male Body and Catholic Piety in Early Modern Spain. The Religious Body Imagined. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Nov 2023. ISBN 9781781799727. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39646. Date accessed: 20 Aug 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39646. Nov 2023

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