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Mystiek > Over mystiek > Geschiedenis > Christelijk

Appendix (12)

Middeleeuwen: Italiaanse mystiek

In a general sense it is true to say that Italian mysticism descends from St. Francis, and in its first period seems almost to be the prerogative of his disciples; especially those of the "Spiritual" party who strove to maintain his ideals in their purity. It is here that we find Franciscan ardour and singlemindedness in alliance with apocalyptic notions deriving from Joachist ideas. In Provence, a widespread mystical movement coloured by Joachism was led by Hugues de Digne and his sister St. Douceline (n. 1214); in whom we find a spirit which, like that of Francis, could find the Divine through flowers and birds and simple natural things. In Italy, nourished by the influence of such deeply mystical friars as John of Parma (ob. 1288) and John of La Verna, this Franciscan spirituality entered into conflict with the ecclesiastical politics of the day; taking up that duty of denouncing the corruptions of the Church, which has so often attracted the mystics. Here the typical figure is that of Jacopone da Todi (1228-1306), the converted lawyer turned mystical poet. On one hand deeply influenced by St. Augustine and Dionysius the Areopagite, on the other the devoted exponent of the Founder's ideals, his "spiritual songs" lift Franciscan mysticism to the heights of ecstatic rapture and literary expression; whilst his savage castigations of the Papacy give him a place among the great medieval satirists. Jacopone's poems have been shown by Von Hügel to have had a formative influence on St. Catherine of Genoa; and have probably affected many other mystics, not only in Italy but elsewhere, for they quickly attained considerable circulation.

In his contemporary the Blessed Angela of Foligno (1248-1309), who was converted from a sinful life to become a tertiary hermit of the Franciscan Order, we have a mystic of the first rank whose visions and revelations place her in the same class as St. Catherine of Genoa and St. Teresa. Known to her followers as the Mistress of Theologians, and numbering among her disciples the brilliant and tempestuous "spiritual" friar Ubertino da Casale, the lofty metaphysical element in Angela's mysticism suggests the high level of .spiritual culture achieved in Franciscan circles of her time. By the sixteenth century her works, translated into the vernacular, had taken their place amongst the classics of mysticism. In the seventeenth they 'were largely used by St. Francis de Sales, Madame Guyon, and other Catholic contemplatives. Seventeen years older than Dante, whose great genius properly closes this line of spiritual descent, she is a link between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Italian mysticism.

De wens is de voorbode van datgene wat je kunt realiseren.
- Goethe -

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