The Song of Songs, the sin in Eden, and Mary Magdalen are discussed as prelude to a fundamental paradox of mysticism: the love of God by female mystics vowed to virginity is represented as corporal and erotic. In a section on “the return of the repressed,” an exploration of the visionary experiences of many medieval and early modern beatas, nuns, and saints illustrates how forbidden sexuality gains expression in relations with Christ, often as a child. The chapter concludes by surveying various arguments of why virginal mysticism is experienced and represented in corporal, erotic, and matrimonial tropes.
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