Saturday, October 20, 2012

Two Mystic Elizabeths

The Abbey of Herkenrode. (Source.)

For yesterday and today, the Menology gives us two of the sort of women mystics for whom the Cistercians were famous, but whose lives tend to be a bit much for contemporary tastes:

At Herkenrode, in Liege diocese, Blessed Elisabeth of Spalbeck, Virgin, who was favoured with the stigmata of the Saviour in her hands, feet and side. Seven times a day, at the Hours of the Divine Office, and particularly every Friday, she reproduced in a marvelous manner the sufferings of the Passion, and her ecstasies were frequent. The narrative of her life, which surpassed the ordinary power of human nature, was written by several Authors worthy of credence. In due course, she reposed in the Lord and her death was precious in the sight of God.

In Portugal, Blessed Elisabeth, who from her Mother’s womb was marked by signs of God’s choice, and at whose birth the Holy Apostles Simon and Jude assisted. She took the habit of Religion at Arouca Monastery, and soon rose to high sanctity. She had many ecstasies. The simple imposition of her hands or the sign of the Cross made by her sufficed to heal the infirm, who flocked to her from all parts of the province. Likewise, after her death, many miracles were due to her intercession.

The chapter room at Arouca. (Source.)

Arouca, founded as a Benedictine House and incorporated into the Order in the mid 13th Century, was the last surviving Cistercian house in Portugal in the 19th Century. The men’s houses were closed by the government in 1831 and houses of women were forbidden to receive novices after 1833. The last nun of Arouca died in 1886. Today the Abbey complex is preserved as a museum of sacred art.

The body of Santa Mafalda, who introduced the Cistercian Rule at Arouca. (Source.)