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Perfect FoolsFolly for Christ's Sake in Catholic and Orthodox Spirituality$
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John Saward

Print publication date: 1980

Print ISBN-13: 9780192132307

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780192132307.001.0001

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Jean-Joseph Surin: Schizophrenia or Spirituality

Jean-Joseph Surin: Schizophrenia or Spirituality

(p.118) 8 Jean-Joseph Surin: Schizophrenia or Spirituality
Perfect Fools

John Saward

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the first of Lallemant's disciples, Jean–Joseph Surin. He was one of the most prolific spiritual writers of the 17th century, but for twenty years he suffered a mental illness with many of the symptoms of catatonic schizophrenia. The most promising Jesuit of his generation, he was brought to a condition of total mental collapse following his traumatic experiences as an exorcist Loudun. Later restored to health, he became an indefatigable correspondent and author and, in his later years, an active apostle around Bordeaux. Surin is a classical example of a fool for Christ's sake. It is true that this madness was involuntary and caused him great pain. But by humbly enduring it, he became a witness and prophetic sign.

Keywords:   holy folly, holy fools, Jesuits, madness, schizophrenia

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