Beatrice of Nazareth

Blessed Beatrice of Nazareth or in Dutch Beatrijs van Nazareth (c. 1200 – 1268) was a Flemish Cistercian nun. She was the very first prose writer using an early Dutch language, a mystic, and the author of the notable Dutch prose dissertation known as the Seven Ways of Holy Love. She was also the first prioress of the Abbey of Our Lady of Nazareth in Nazareth near Lier in Brabant.

Beatrice of Nazareth
Beatrijs de Nazareth
Blessed Beatrix
Bornc. 1200
Tienen, Belgium
DiedJuly 29, 1268
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
FeastJuly 29


Evidence for her life comes from both her biography, published as Lilia Cistercii, the origins, lives and deeds of the holy virgins of Cîteaux, ed Chrysostomus Henriquez, (Douai 1633), and from her own work The Seven Ways of Holy Love (Seven Manieren van Heilige Minnen). The latter is a work of early mystic literature that describes seven stages of love, as it is purified and transformed, before it can return to God. It has a simple and balanced prose style,[1] and is associated with the emergence of the 'bridal mysticism' movement.


Beatrice was born in Tienen, Belgium, of a wealthy family. At the age of seven, her mother died, and she was sent to live with the Béguines in nearby Zoutleeuw, where she attended the local school. A little over a year later, her father arranged for her to return home.[2]

Wishing to join a monastery, her father took her to the Cistercian nuns at Bloemendaal/Florival, where at the age of ten, she became an oblate. She continued her education at the monastery in Florival.[2] At the age of fifteen, Beatrice asked to be allowed to enter the novitiate, and was initially refused due to her young age and delicate health. However, the following year she was admitted as a novice.[2]

Later, in 1236, she was sent to commence the new foundation at Nazareth, a hamlet near Lier, Belgium. She practised very severe austerities, wearing a girdle of thorns and compressing her body with cords. In her visions, Jesus is said to have appeared to her and to have pierced her heart with a fiery dart. Her devotion to the Eucharist resulted in bleeding and physical collapse.[3]

She died in 1268 and was buried at the convent of Nazareth. Legend says that after Nazareth was abandoned during a time of disturbance, the body of Beatrice was translated by angels to the city of Lier.


She is known as Blessed within the Roman Catholic church. Her feast day is 29 July.


  1. ^ Miejer (1992:16-17).
  2. ^ a b c Lindemann, Kate. "Beatrice of Nazareth 1200 - 1268 CE", Women-Philosophers
  3. ^ Knuth, Elizabeth T. (1992). "The Beguines". Archived from the original on 5 April 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-10.

Further reading

Modern editions

  • The Life of Beatrice of Nazareth, 1200-1268, trans Roger DeGanck, (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1991)
  • Beatrice of Nazareth, Seven Ways of Holy Love, as translated by Wim van den Dungen, (1997, 1998, 2006)

Secondary sources

  • Kloppenborg, Ria; Hanegraaff, Wouter J. (1995). Female Stereotypes in Religious Traditions. Leiden: E. J. Brill. pp. 77–78. ISBN 90-04-10290-6.
  • "Beatrice of Nazareth (1200-1268A.D.)". Archived from the original on 2006-02-06. Retrieved 2006-04-10.
  • Knuth, Elizabeth T. (1992). "The Beguines". Archived from the original on 5 April 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-10.
  • Meijer, Reinder, Literature of the Low Countries: A Short History of Dutch Literature in the Netherlands and Belgium. (New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1971), pp16–17
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

External links

Arsenius the Great

Saint Arsenius the Deacon, sometimes known as Arsenius of Scetis and Turah, Arsenius the Roman or Arsenius the Great, was a Roman imperial tutor who became an anchorite in Egypt, one of the most highly regarded of the Desert Fathers, whose teachings were greatly influential on the development of asceticism and the contemplative life.

His contemporaries so admired him as to surname him "the Great". His feast day is celebrated on May 8 in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Eastern Orthodox church, and on 13 Pashons in the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Ascent of Mount Carmel

Ascent of Mount Carmel (Spanish: Subida del Monte Carmelo) is a 16th-century spiritual treatise by Spanish Catholic mystic and poet Saint John of the Cross. The book is a systematic treatment of the ascetical life in pursuit of mystical union with Christ, giving advice and reporting on his own experience. Alongside another connected work by John, entitled The Dark Night, it details the so-called Dark Night of the Soul, when the individual Soul undergoes earthly and spiritual privations in search of union with God. These two works, together with John's The Living Flame of Love and the Spiritual Canticle, are regarded as some of the greatest works both in Christian mysticism and in the Spanish language.

Written between 1578 and 1579 in Granada, Spain, after his escape from prison, the Ascent is illustrated by a diagram of the process outlined in the text of the Soul's progress to the summit of the metaphorical Mount Carmel where God is encountered. The work is divided into three sections and is set out as a commentary on four poetic stanzas by John on the subject of the Dark Night. John shows how the Soul sets out to leave all worldly ties and appetites behind to achieve "nothing less than transformation in God".

Aspects of Christian meditation

Aspects of Christian meditation was the topic of a 15 October 1989 document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document is titled "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian meditation" and is formally known by its incipit, Orationis formas.The document issues warnings on differences, and potential incompatibilities, between Christian meditation and the styles of meditation used in eastern religions such as Buddhism. The document warns of fundamental errors in combining Christian and non-Christian styles of meditation.

Referring to the constitution Dei verbum the document emphasizes that all Christian prayer and meditation should "proceed to converge on Christ" and be guided by the gift of the Holy Spirit. It reaffirmed that the Church recommends the reading of the Scripture prior to and as a source of Christian prayer and meditation.

Similar warnings were issued in 2003 in A Christian reflection on the New Age which characterized New Age activities as essentially incompatible with Christian teachings and values.

Book of the First Monks

The Book of the First Monks (Latin: Decem Libri – Liber de Institutione Primorum Monacharum) is a medieval Catholic book in the contemplative and eremetic tradition of the Carmelite Order, thought to reflect the spirituality of the Prophet Elijah, honored as the Father of the Order.


Brautmystik (IPA /'brautˌmystik/), literally 'bride-mysticism', often rendered 'bridal mysticism' or 'nuptial mysticism' in English, was a thirteenth-century Christian spiritual movement associated with the Low Countries.

It is particularly associated with Beatrice of Nazareth (d. 1268) and Hadewijch of Antwerp (fl. c. 1250). The movement drew inspiration from the thought of Bernard of Clairvaux, particularly his thinking on the imagery of the Canticle. It was a form of affective piety. It is often associated with the more intellectual, speculative movement, Wesenmystik.

Cataphatic theology

Cataphatic theology or kataphatic theology is theology that uses "positive" terminology to describe or refer to the divine – specifically, God – i.e. terminology that describes or refers to what the divine is believed to be, in contrast to the "negative" terminology used in apophatic theology to indicate what it is believed the divine is not.

Christian mysticism in ancient Africa

Christian mysticism in ancient Africa took form in the desert, as part of a long-reaching Judeo-Christian mystical tradition. In the Judeo-Christian mystical tradition, the desert is known to induce religious experiences and altered states of consciousness.The first signs of Christian mysticism in Africa followed the teachings of Montanus in the late 2nd century. Followers of Montanus, called Montanists, induced ecstatic experiences out of which they would prophesy. Usually the prophecies were spoken in an unknown language.

In the mid- to late 3rd century, the deserts of northern Africa became home to a deeply devout group known as the Desert Fathers or Desert People. These individuals were highly influenced by the intellectual components of Coptic Christianity. They led quiet lives and communicated the Gospel with those whom they traded with. Their movement became the template of Western eremitism and monasticism. The architect of the template was Saint Anthony, the foundational Desert Father.

Christianity and Hellenistic philosophy

Christianity and Hellenistic philosophies experienced complex interactions during the first to the fourth centuries.

As Christianity spread throughout the Hellenic world, an increasing number of church leaders were educated in Greek philosophy. The dominant philosophical traditions of the Greco-Roman world then were Stoicism, Platonism, and Epicureanism. Stoicism and, particularly, Platonism were readily incorporated into Christian ethics and Christian theology.

Guigo II

Guigo II, sometimes referred to as Guy, or by the moniker "the Angelic", was a Carthusian monk and the 9th prior of Grande Chartreuse monastery, from 1174-80.

He died possibly in 1188 or 1193, and is distinct from both Guigo I, the 5th prior of the same monastery, and the late thirteenth-century Carthusian Guigo de Ponte.

Heilwige Bloemardinne

Heilwige Bloemardinne (1265? – 23 August 1335) was a Christian mystic who lived in Brussels and was loosely associated with the Brethren of the Free Spirit. She was also known as Heilwijch Blomart.

She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Wilhelm Bloemart, one of the most consistently powerful figures in the municipal government of Brussels. She is differentiated from earlier teachers such as Aleydis (executed, Cambrai, 1236) or Marguerite Porete (executed, Paris, 1310) by the support she enjoyed from the secular authorities which made her untouchable by the Inquisition. Some idea of her prestige is given by the fact that, on her death, the silver chair upon which she sat when instructing disciples was given to the Duchess of Brabant. This chair was popularly believed to possess miraculous powers derived from its association with her. According to Professor Cohn she was popularly revered as a living saint.She is known to have written a book because John of Ruysbroeck attacked it, but no copy seems to have survived. Ruysbroeck does not bring himself to refer to her by name but calls her Pseudo-Hadewijch. One view is that John of Ruysbroeck's time as a priest in Brussels was brought to an end by being driven out by supporters of Bloemardinne. These grounds for personal animosity make it hard to know if the views he attributes to her are fairly stated.

The view that can most confidently be attributed to her is the doctrine of seraphic love - that melting into God is a possibility and that a blissful foretaste of paradise is available to the earth-bound. "At the head of the sect in Brussels was a certain woman, who excited such admiration among the people that they believed that two seraphim accompanied her when she approached the Holy Table." Accusations that this spilled over into incitement to sensual indulgence were levied at Bloemardinne or those who claimed to follow her.Another view which Ruysbroeck attributes to her followers is that of complete passivity before God. "Thus they are poor in spirit for they are without will of any sort having forsaken everything and making no choices of their own." This has echoes of Marguerite Porete's annihilation of souls. Another similarity to Porete may be the method of disseminating her views among the population. If Ruysbroeck's attacks are accurate, Bloemardinne produced pamphlets which acted as teaching summaries from which travelling teachers could expound these lessons to the poor. Parts of the Mirror of Simple Souls read as if they began with this purpose in mind, particularly as the words 'reader' and 'hearer' are used indiscriminately.

Heilwige Bloemardinne seems to be developing a tradition started more conservatively by Beatrice of Nazareth of whom it was said, "in all her deeds and thoughts, she neither feared nor was in awe of men, nor devil, nor angel, nor even divine judgment."The movement spread and seems to have inspired Jeanne Dabenton who led the "Society of the Poor" in Paris and was executed there around 1372.


Henosis (Ancient Greek: ἕνωσις) is the classical Greek word for mystical "oneness", "union" or "unity." In Platonism, and especially Neoplatonism, the goal of henosis is union with what is fundamental in reality: the One (Τὸ Ἕν), the Source, or Monad. The Neoplatonic concept has precedents in the Greek mystery religions as well as parallels in Eastern philosophy. It is further developed in the Corpus Hermeticum, in Christian theology, Alevism, soteriology and mysticism, and is an important factor in the historical development of monotheism during Late Antiquity.


Hilarion the Great (291–371) was an anchorite who spent most of his life in the desert according to the example of Anthony the Great. He is considered to be the founder of Palestinian monasticism and venerated as a saint by Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church.

Lingua Ignota

A Lingua Ignota (Latin for "unknown language") was described by the 12th century abbess of Rupertsberg, St. Hildegard of Bingen, OSB, who apparently used it for mystical purposes. To write it, she used an alphabet of 23 letters denominated litterae ignotae.

Mechthild of Magdeburg

Mechthild (or Mechtild, Matilda, Matelda) of Magdeburg (c. 1207 – c. 1282/1294), a Beguine, was a Christian medieval mystic, whose book Das fließende Licht der Gottheit (The Flowing Light of Divinity) described her visions of God. She was the first mystic to write in German, as she did not know how to write in Latin.

Sol de Fátima

Sol de Fátima is a Spanish-language Catholic devotional magazine published by the Blue Army of Our Lady and is devoted to the message of Our Lady of Fátima.

Spanish mystics

The Spanish mystics are major figures in the Catholic Reformation of 16th and 17th century Spain. The goal of this movement was to reform the Church structurally and to renew it spiritually. The Spanish Mystics attempted to express in words their experience of a mystical communion with Christ.

Spiritual Canticle

The Spiritual Canticle (Spanish: Cántico Espiritual), is one of the poetic works of the Spanish mystical poet St. John of the Cross.

St. John of the Cross, a Carmelite friar and priest during the Counter-Reformation was arrested and jailed by the Calced Carmelites in 1577 at the Carmelite Monastery of Toledo because of his close association with Saint Teresa of Avila in the Discalced Carmelite reforms. He remained imprisoned for nine months in a cell, in bad conditions that caused him much suffering. He memorized, in the absence of the means to write them down, a thirty-one-stanza version of the Canticle. Some years later, after 1582, he wrote down the last stanzas in Baeza and Granada, the last five ones after a conversation with a nun, sister Francisca de la Madre de Dios.

Ana de Jesús asked him to write a comment to his poem, which he did in 1584. It was just Ana de Jesús who after being expelled from Spain took the poem with her, and finally it was published in Paris 1622, but in a French translation from Spanish (having not been published in the first Spanish collection of John's works of 1618). In 1627, it was published in the original Spanish in Brussels, and in the same year was published in Italian, at Rome. In Spain, the poem was first published in the Madrid edition of John's works of 1630.

The Glories of Mary

The Glories of Mary is a classic book in the field of Roman Catholic Mariology, written during the 18th century by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.