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The Audacious Metaphors of Mystical Women: The Model of Caterina da Siena

The Audacious Metaphors of Mystical Women: The Model of Caterina da Siena

Paper given by Rita Librandi

Delivered at New York University on 12 February 2018

Religious education for women included spiritual meditation by which it was specifically taught to revive the life and passion of Christ. Spiritual meditation generated the tendency to superimpose the visible, earthly reality to the divine and metaphysical one, producing metaphors that frequently appeared in their texts. In women’s religious writings, many metaphors are drawn from the Bible, but many are created by the same mystical writers who often forge the so-called “audacious metaphors,” that is, metaphors that surprise the readers and exceed their expectations. Caterina da Siena has been a model for many mystical writers. During the lecture, Professor Librandi analyzes Catherine’s metaphors that compare Christ to a mother who nurses, or with objects and people of the city’s lives at the time, such as a merchant’s workshop or even a moneylender. It is also thanks to these combinations that the Letters of Caterina da Siena acquire particular intensity and literary creativeness.

Rita Librandi is a Professor of History of the Italian Language and Italian Linguistics at the University of Naples.

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