Five Women Mystics and the Five-Fold Transformative Map to Unia Mystica

  • Author / Creator
    Mona Smart
  • This thesis is an exploration of unia mystica, the unity of divine and human will, as the final stage in an arduous process of growth in human consciousness, the central purpose of which is to directly apprehend God. Five women mystics, Julian of Norwich, Saint Catherine of Genoa, Saint Teresa of Avila, Edith Stein and Evelyn Underhill, have been selected for investigation both as critical exemplars of this process and for their testimony of self-growth and divine apprehension. Through an analysis of their lives and pertinent writings, this thesis explores the five-stage classical Christian map – purgation, illumination, dark night of the senses, dark night of the soul and unia mystica – as a highly paradoxical schema for developing human consciousness since it involves the forfeiture of selfhood and the transmutation of the pain of humankind, processes which necessarily involve personal suffering. This thesis also investigates the selected mystics’ response to such suffering; according to their testimony, growth in human consciousness is a dialectical process involving both suffering and joy, and to live in the presence of God is never for the benefit of oneself, but to serve humankind. Three key activities the five mystics’ identify as critically necessary to the success of the classical schema is also discussed: (1) purgation to develop a detached state of mind; (2) mortification to develop a virtuous character, and; (3) prayer for help and guidance. As these five mystics attest, the culmination of these practices is a deeply intimate relationship with God, experiencing first-hand, divine love and wisdom, energies so holy they can never be compared or mistaken for their inferior human facsimile. It was precisely this energy these five women brought to the world through their lives and work, their remarkable accomplishments dispelling any view of the mystic as impractical or unrealistic.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Theological Studies
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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  • Institution
    University of Alberta
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  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Jane Garland
    • Dr. Fran Hare