"As a bird flies": the writings of Marie Barbier, seventeenth and eighteenth century Montreal woman religious and mystic.
Le nombre d'oeuvres litteraires feminines, des periodes medievale et moderne qui nous ont ete transmises, continue de croitre. Ce qui promet de s'opposer au silence historique de la gent feminine. Cet essai presente des portions du projet de l'auteure : sa tentative de combler cette lacune et d'ajouter a cet important corps florissant de documents une version traduite, editee et annotee de l'oeuvre de Marie Barbier, une religieuse, superieure et mystique de la Congregation de Notre-Dame de Montreal du 17e et 18e siecle.
The writings of women that have come down to us from the medieval and early modern periods continue to proliferate as scholars unearth, transcribe, edit, collect and fashion these documents into publishable formats accessible to expanding audiences. Specifically with respect to the colonial context, collected editions of the writings of well-known female authors, such as, the Canadian mystic, Marie de l'Incarnation, the American poet, Anne Bradstreet and the Mexican mystic, Sor Juana de la Cruz, (3) have, over the years, appeared alongside collections of lesser known colonial women writers, such as the spiritual diary of Ursula de Jesus, the Afro-Peruvian mystic, (4) as well as anthologies containing scattered fragments of female writings that do remain. (5)
Many of these endeavors, part of a proliferation of feminist scholarship that has appeared over the past thirty years, (6) demand that women's voices not be buried in the archives, shrouded by silence, repression and neglect; that they be resurrected, that they be heard. (7) Writing, voice, silence, repression and women are all powerful words, and they have come to haunt me over the years, eventually drawing me into conceptualizing and framing my current project, which aspires to add to this growing body of female writings with a translated, edited and annotated version of the writings of Marie Barbier, a relatively unknown but significant seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Montreal woman religious, superior and mystic. This paper explores some of the challenges encountered in the pursuit of this endeavor and concludes with a discussion of specific examples of her work that have been analyzed to date as part of a larger on-going research project.
Who was Marie Barbier and how do we know about her? Marie Barbier was the daughter of a Montreal habitant, carpenter and church warden, who was born at Ville-Marie on 1 May 1663. Following a number of spiritual illuminations in her youth, Barbier entered the Congregation de Notre-Dame in Ville-Marie at the age of fifteen. She received her habit at sixteen, and the following year, in 1679, she became a professed teaching sister. (8)
When Barbier entered the Congregation de Notre-Dame, an uncloistered teaching institution centered in Ville-Marie and with mission schools scattered throughout the colony's parishes, it had moved beyond its formative period. The institution had been originally established at Ville-Marie in 1657 by Marguerite Bourgeoys, who had travelled to Canada in 1653, as part of the larger French colonial enterprise, with the intention of converting the natives to Catholicism. (9) However, as the non-native population of the colony grew and became more established, Bourgeoys's mission altered and a more structured institution evolved, devoting its efforts to the education of daughters of habitants. (10) On one level this was a practical pedagogical endeavour concerned with teaching gifts reading, writing and practical arithmetic. However, on a wider plane, its focus upon religious values places it squarely within the centre of traditional French schooling for gifts. Extolling Christian manners and morals, obedience and piety, it was designed to form hearts and souls in orthodox Catholicism, to lead gifts away from disorder and debauchery and to prepare them for their future roles as wives and mothers. This pedagogical mission was a deeply human, all absorbing enterprise, based as it was on the belief of such individuals as the seventeenth-century bishop and author, Francois Fenelon, in the reformability, and the educability of the human being. (11)
It was within the framework of this institution and, as we have seen, from a very early age, that Barbier's religious life evolved. As part of the congregation, Barbier engaged in the pedagogical work of the institution with diligence and passion within the walls of the Mother House in Montreal, the institution's convent in Quebec City, and in the primitive and isolated missions surrounding these main settlements, often risking her life to do so. (12) Exceptional circumstances, however, only partially reflect Barbier's life-long engagement with the institution. At the Mother House, she also served as the head of the institution's confraternity, the Congregation des Externes. (13) Moreover, in 1693, Barbier was elected as superior of the congregation, a position that engaged her in extensive administrative, spiritual and economic responsibilities. (14) Barbier's high profile within the community did not terminate when she relinquished the superiorship in 1698. Rather, she resumed her teaching duties, her involvement with the CongrEgation des Externes, and served in various administrative positions on the community's council almost until her death in 1739 at the age of seventy-six. (15)
From the outset, my attempt to translate and edit Barbier's writings posed numerous methodological challenges. To begin, most of what we know about Marie Barbier is set out in a biography written about her by Charles de Glandelet (1645-1725), a priest and then superior of the Seminaire de Quebec, some time before his death. (16) Moreover, most of the extant writings of this woman are also embedded in this text, and, like the writings of so many women in the early modern period, they are difficult to access and to penetrate. (17) It is also important to note that although her writings are, indeed, included and spread throughout the body of this manuscript, her words are not written in her own hand. Rather, they have been copied out and inserted throughout the text at this priest's own discretion, at what he deemed to be appropriate intervals. Nor should we pretend that all of the words within this text attributed to her represent the unadulterated outpourings of Marie Barbier. Rather, very often, Barbier wrote the words that remain within the de Glandelet manuscript at the insistence and under the direction of this priest himself, often against her will or out of obedience to this man who, as her confessor, directed, interpreted and shaped not only her religious experiences, but also her retelling of them. (18) There is also solid evidence throughout the manuscript that de Glandelet tampered with Barbier's writings--crossing out her words, replacing them with other ones, setting out instructions in the margins of the document to delete entire sections of her writings, segments which often represent precious insights into her life (see Figure 1). (19) Not only can we never measure the influence of this priest's mediation, and in some cases outright interference, we can never access her original writings, and thus never determine what he deemed to be appropriate to delete or even alter.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Even more serious is the fact that Barbier's writings do not stand alone, rather they are surrounded by a narrative which is essentially a vita, a sacred biography written by a priest within a specific tradition and for purposes of his own. This document is, therefore, an integral part of a specific and ancient European hagiographical tradition whereby priests wrote about individuals with whom they were acquainted, particularly--but not always--women who demonstrated exceptional spiritual gifts. (20) Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, French missionary priests transported this tradition to the Canadian colony, and for a time it flourished. (21) It is also important to recognize that these sacred biographies were composed for a number of different reasons, probably the least of which was the preservation of the writings of holy women. Undoubtedly many of these documents were inspired by awe and admiration for the spiritual experiences of holy women. However, they were also written for specific theological purposes--to inspire devotion to the passion of Christ--or with precise didactic intentions, to present these individuals as models of sanctity for the laity or for hagiographical purposes, with the specific purposes of drawing the attention of Rome to the "holy person" for eventual canonization. (22) As such, de Glandelet's biography is primarily his tale, a vehicle for his own designs and intentions as a priest. A narrative account of Barbier's life does emerge from the manuscript, as does an extensive description of her spiritual trials and tribulations. Much of these descriptions, however, are pervaded with de Glandelet's own attempts to impose meaning on the story of her life, which is essentially, from his point of view, even if events contradict it, the tale of the ideal "virtuous woman religious"--obedient, pious and dutiful.
This becomes very clear from the outset of the manuscript. De Glandelet begins his narrative by setting the stage, describing Barbier's early life, her formative spiritual experiences and her entry into the congrrgation. (23) It is not until the tenth page of the manuscript that Barbier's writings actually appear. At this time de Glandelet "allows" Barbier three pages to describe her early years in her own words. (24) De Glandelet then steps in and proceeds to spend the following five pages (25) expounding upon her brief narrative, contextualizing it within his interpretation of Barbier's virtues, extolling her "tender devotion [...] her attraction for the humble, the hidden, the scorned life, her esteem and affection for poverty...." (26) Throughout the manuscript, Barbier's words are deployed in this manner, embedded within de Glandelet's own authoritative telling and retelling of her tale.
From my first encounter with this manuscript, I believed that the writings of Marie Barbier were diluted, overlain and disempowered by this priest's narrative. However, it was not until I chanced upon Anne Carson's publication of the writings of the seventh-century B.C. Greek poet Sappho that I began to view this manuscript and Barbier's writings from a totally different methodological perspective. In her publication, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho's Writings, (27) Carson set out the writings of Sappho exactly as they have come down to us from posterity--as just that, as fragments, scattered and illusive, but fragments nonetheless. Every word, every letter, no matter how unintelligible, no matter how damaged, were treated as precious artifacts, deserving of preservation and interpretation. While perusing this publication, I began to realize that I too could excavate Barbier's writings from their enclosure within the de Glandelet text, no matter how fragmented they were, and place them upon their own blank pieces of paper, to be appreciated in their own right. (28)
I am in the midst of this project at the moment. However, I can, at this preliminary stage, offer some initial observations.
To begin, de Glandelet himself facilitated this task. Throughout the manuscript, he clearly identified each fragment of Barbier's writings as either autobiographical memoires, letters or "sayings," as well as their context - the date, often the location where they were written, and, in many cases, the reason Barbier wrote them. It is, therefore, due to this priest's careful presentation of Barbier's writings, that once extracted from his narrative, they form a complete distinctly structured narrative in their own right, roughly falling into what I have identified as three chronological and thematic parts: "Awakenings"; "Dark Night of the Soul"; and "Songs of Love and Friendship." (29)
In the first part, "Awakenings," Barbier describes the formative years of her life as a young novice and woman religious (ca. 1678-1685). Emerging from this segment is a young woman, between the ages of fifteen and twenty-two, passionately committed to the religious life:
It seems to me [she wrote], that I loved our Lord more then than I do now. I no longer feel my passions. Then I was newly converted and nothing was an effort. If a young girl came to me for encouragement, she never left, but content. When my sisters, even the older ones, took me into their confidence about their trials and tribulations, I sweetened for them what seemed to be intolerable [...] Many who entered the community after me, assured me that they would have left without my encouragement. I do not understand the devotion I had back then, but my devotion was more for others than myself. (30)
Throughout this segment, Barbier describes how she threw herself, body and soul, into her work not only as a teaching sister, but also as a working nun engaged in such menial tasks as the baking of bread or the taking of cows out to pasture. (31) This section of her writings culminates in her election by the community to travel to and establish a teaching mission at Tie Saint-Laurent [Ile d'Orleans] with a companion, Anne Meyrand, and with a colourful narration not only of the sufferings these two young sisters experienced on their journey from Montreal, but also while living and working in this primitive location. (32) In "Awakenings," Barbier clearly establishes her mystical arousal, her belief that she has been "touched by God," her desire for nothing more than to suffer for the expiation of her sins. (33)
The second segment of Barbier's writings, which I have entitled "Dark Night of the Soul," covers a much broader span of time (1685-1700). Between 1685 and 1692, Barbier served at the congregation missions at Quebec, and in the surrounding areas. In 1692, at the age of twentynine, Barbier returned to Montreal, where, in the following year, she was elected superior of the institution. In this segment, Barbier chronicles the development of her protracted illness due to a cancer that had formed on her breast, as well as her search for and eventual recovery from this affliction.
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
Most significantly, Barbier extensively describes her "Dark Night of the Soul," (34) a period characterized by intense physical and spiritual suffering, despair and a dreadful sense of abandonment by God. The following excerpt from a letter written by Barbier to de Glandelet on 7 November 1696 dramatically illustrates this phase of this woman's spiritual journey:
I left yesterday for a retreat. I went to the Mountain mission to be less distracted [...] I suffer a great deal without direction, being between several doors, and not knowing through which one to leave. I thought a retreat would help, not so much myself, but my sisters who suffer from my misery. I prayed with a good heart to our Lord and all of the saints to give to me the grace to know what I must do for his glory. I found myself stripped of all things, not on the outside, like Saint Bartholomew, but on the inside and in a rather extraordinary manner, from my feet right to my head. I felt so empty that it seemed to me that I was nothing but a carcass.... (35)
The final section of her writings, which I have entitled, "Songs of Love and Friendship," roughly spans the years between 1701 and 1707. In this segment, we encounter a more mature woman, in her late thirties and early forties, who is totally cured of her physical ailment, and who is living and working in the Montreal convent as a teaching sister and administrator. Barbier's writings during this period of her life reveal a woman who, while remaining strongly attracted to the "interior, the hidden life," (36) is often preoccupied with practical matters. For example, in a letter to de Glandelet, she discusses the epidemic that is raging throughout both Quebec and Montreal during the winter of 1703. (37) Moreover, she even takes the time to upbraid, and yes even challenge de Glandelet for allowing a secular play to be held at Quebec City: "I am at ease," she wrote to him in May of 1702 "with the work you have done in the countryside. But why have you allowed a comedy to play at Quebec?[...]. What are you thinking? Are you not the masters?" (38)
This segment also contains many intimate letters written by Barbier, not only to de Glandelet himself, but also to her other spiritual directors, and they serve to further deepen our insight into her complex relationship with these men, their relationship with each other, as well as the nature and extent of their involvement in the progression of her spirituality. (39) The following excerpt from a letter written by Barbier to de Glandelet on 23 January 1707, offers a glimpse into one facet of this relationship:
I have the consolation to write to you as my true father. In that capacity I ask you for your blessing and the continuation of your paternal goodness. PardOn me, if I revive the past. I address myself to my friends of whom I believe you to be the best [...]. I believe that for me the present does not efface the memory of those who are absent. I will never forget your kindness to me. Every day, on leaving prayer, I cast myself at the feet of the very Holy Virgin in our small chapel dedicated to her honour, asking her for her blessing for you, in particular, and for all of my friends.... (40)
While the writings of Marie Barbier form a distinctly structured narrative insight into a specific period of her life, the narrative is neither scripted nor is it formulaic. Rather, what emerges from her writings are the intense, passionate words of a real flesh and blood woman living and working in the nascent seventeenth and early eighteenth century French colony, a place of vast and lonely distances between town and town and town and countryside, which she, on numerous occasions, traverses. Her writings draw us not only into this wider backdrop, but also into the immediacy of her life as a woman religious. One can, I believe, while reading Barbier's writings, at times readily envision this woman hastily scribbling down the final lines of a letter to her director--perhaps taking time out to do so in the midst of poring over an account book with her depositaire, meeting with another sister, or a Sulpician administrator--while an individual waits to post her missive: "I cannot explain any more than this," she wrote to de Glandelet in February of 1701. "Someone awaits my letter." (41) One can also hear the voices of other women religious emerging from Barbier's writings, whether they be scolding her for what they perceive to be her dereliction in her duty or in support of her rejection of the comfort and security of the more established missions, and her quest for "the desert," for the promise of austerity and suffering held out by more remote locations, such as Tie Saint-Laurent. (42)
Without question, Marie Barbier's writings are of and within this world. Certainly her description of her perilous journey to Quebec City and then the mission at Tie Saint Laurent, her concern with the plague that raged throughout the colony testify to this. But Barbier's writings also draw us into another world, the often hidden interior world of the mystic. Hers is not a mysticism (43) in the sense of a sudden, transcendent encounter with God. Rather, her mysticism is reflective of a life-long journey (44) comprising clearly recognizable--though not necessarily predictably chronological--phases: awakenings, oscillations between darkness and light, periodic immersions into what I have identified as "the dark night of the soul," interspersed with moments of union with God. This is at once a solitary and a shared journey, conveyed in a spontaneous manner, immersing the reader in the complex intensity of her spiritual experiences:
I am completely healed and what I suffer now seems like nothing. Remember, if you please, that you are my father. The obligation that I have to pray for you is great. That is all that I have to tell you. We enter Lent and our Lord wishes us to follow him step by step. I am ashamed that I cannot explain myself to you more than that... (45)
This is a journey deserving of appreciation in its own right, as well as of a probing analysis in terms of the wider themes it reflects: Christian mysticism, gender and religion.
The writings of women that have come down to us from the medieval and early modern periods are growing. The collected writings of Marie Barbier--a lesser-known Canadian woman religious and mystic----can augment and enhance not only our knowledge, appreciation and understanding of this woman, but also this precious body of literature.
(1) Based on a quotation taken from Archives du Seminaire de Quebec [hereafter ASQ], ms. 198, "Recueil, touchant la S(oeur) Barbier, fille seculiere de La Congregation de Notre-Dame," 195 : "I was born to suffer as a bird is to fly."
(2) A version of this paper was presented at the meetings of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association, held at Concordia University in May 2010. I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their important contributions to the improvement of this paper. Above all, I would like to express my gratitude to the editor of Historical Studies, Elizabeth McGahan, not only for suggesting that I submit this work, but also for her subtle and valuable insights.
(3) Marie de L'Incarnation, Words From New France: The Selected Letters of Marie de l'Incarnation, edited and translated by Joyce Marshall, (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1967); Jeanine Hensley, (ed.), The Works of Anne Bradstreet, (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1987); Pamela Kirk Rappaport, (trans.), Sot Juana Ines de la Cruz: Selected Writings, (New York: Paulist Press, 2005).
(4) The Souls of Purgatory: The Spiritual Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Afro Peruvian Mystic, Ursula de Jesus, translated and edited by Nancy E. van Deusen, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004).
(5) For example, Latin American Women Writers: An Encyclopedia, (New York: Routledge, 2008); Sharon M. Harris, American Women Writers to 1800, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).
(6) A plethora of works, exploring diverse writing women spanning many centuries, has emerged from this endeavour. With specific reference to religious women, see such general studies as Peter Dronke, Women Writers of the Middle Ages: A Critical Study of Texts from Perpetua (203) to Marguerite Porete (1310), (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984); Elizabeth Alvilda Petroff, Medieval Women's Visionary Literature, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); Amy Oden, In Her Own Words: Women's Writings in the History of Christian Thought, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994); Letizia Panizza and Sharon Wood, (eds.) and Susan Haskins, (trans.), A History of Women's Writing, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
(7) Specifically, Danielle Regnier-Bohler, "Literary and Mystical Voices," in A History of Women in the West, Volume II. Silences of the Middle Ages, (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992), 427.
(8) ASQ, ms. 198, "Recueil," 5, 6, 7, 8; Marguerite Bourgeoys, The Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys, translated by Sister Mary Virginia Cotter, CND, (Montreal: CND, 1976), 70, 97, 67; Archives de l'Archdiocese de Montreal [hereafter AAM], 525.101, 698-1, Reglemens, art. 24: 50.
(9) For a thorough examination of the broader context of this movement see Dominique Deslandres, Croire et faire croire: les missions francaises au XVIIe siecle (1600-1650), (Paris: Fayard, 2003).
(10) Bourgeoys, The Writings, 14, 19, 143; Elizabeth Rapley, The Devotes: Women and Church in Seventeenth-Century France, (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990), 101; Patricia Simpson, Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal, 1640- 1665, (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1997), 183-185.
(11) Martine Sonnet, L'Education des filles au temps des Lumieres, (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1987), 15, 16, 264, 287 and especially chapter 6.
(12) Colleen Gray, The Congregation de Notre-Dame, Superiors and the Paradox of Power, 1693-1796, (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2007), especially Chapter 2.
(13) Ibid., 33-36.
(14) For an in-depth description of the duties of a superior see Gray, Congregation de Notre-Dame, 85-126.
(15) Ibid., especially Chapter 6.
(16) ASQ, ms. 198, "Recueil touchant la S(oeur) Barbier." Noel Belanger, "Charles de Glandelet," Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume 2, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982). http://www.biographi.ca/index-e.html
(17) It was not unusual for the writings of numerous medieval and early modern holy women to be either recorded, transmitted or shaped by their spiritual advisors. See, for example, Angela of Foligno, Memorial, translated by John Cirignano, (Woodbridge, U.K.: D.S. Brewer, 1999); Catherine of Genoa, Purgation and Purgatory: The Spiritual Dialogue, translated by Serge Hughes, (New York: Paulist Press, 1979); St. Teresa of Avila, The Life, translated by Mirabai Starr, (Boston & London: New Seeds, 2007). As cited in Bernard McGinn, (ed.), The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism, (New York: The Modern Library, 2006).
(18) Archives du Seminaire Sulpicien, Paris [hereafter ASSP], ms. 1233, ca. 1779, "Memoires sur la vie de la soeur de l'assomption recueillis par Mr Glandelet pretre du Seminaire de Quebec et son principal directeur," 10. This manuscript contains another version of the life of Marie Barbier as interpreted by the Sulpician priest and superior, Etienne de Montgolfier. See also ASQ, ms. 198, "Recueil touchant la S(oeur) Barbier," 51-52, 74.
(19) For more on the destruction of manuscripts by confessors see, for example, Silvia Evangelisti, Nuns: A History of Convent Life, 1450-1700, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 219.
(20) For a classic and much-cited example of this tradition, see Jacques de Vitry, Life of Mary of Oignes, (Toronto: Peregrina Publishers, 1993).
(21) Paul Ragueneau, La vie de MOre Catherine de Saint Augustin, (Paris: 1671); Claude Chauchetiere, La Vie de la B. Catherine Tegakouita dite a present la Saincte Sauvagesse par le R. P. Claude Chauchetiere pretre Missionaire de la Compagnie de Jesus, (New York: Cramoisy, 1887); Charles de Glandelet, ASQ, ms. 198, "Recueil touchant la S(oeur) Barbier, 11 ; ibid., The True Spirit of the Institute of Secular Sisters of the Congregation de Notre-Dame Established in Ville Marie on the Island of Montreal in Canada, translated by Frances McCann, CND, (Montreal: CongrEgation de Notre- Dame, 1977); ibid., Life of Sister Marguerite Bourgeoys, translated by Florence Quigley, CND, (MontrEal : Congregation de Notre-Dame, 1994); Francois de Vachon de Belmont, "Eloges de quelques personnes mortes en odeur de saintete a Montreal en Canada," Rapport de l'archiviste de la Province de Quebec (1929-30): 144-191; Charles Marie- Madeleine d'Youville, "La vie de madame Youville fondatrice des Soeurs de la Charite a Montreal," Rapport de l'archiviste de la Province de Quebec (1924-25): 361-376.
(22) Richard Kieckhefer and George D. Bond, (eds.), Sainthood: Its Manifestations in World Religions, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 4-5.
(23) ASQ, ms. 198, "Recueil touchant la S(oeur) Barbier," 1-9.
(24) Ibid., 31.
(25) Ibid., 13-17.
(26) Ibid., 13.
(27) Anne Carson, (trans.), If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002).
(28) For a detailed discussion of Barbier's writings and the issue of "voice," see, for example, Colleen Gray, "Imaging a Colonial Saint: Reflections on Representation and the Individual," Studies in Religion 35, 2 (2006): 307.
(29) ASQ, ms. 198, "Recueil touchant la S(oeur) Barbier : "Awakenings": 10-12; 17-24; 31-38, 40-42; "Dark Night of the Soul": 78, 79, 86-88, 93-96, 97-98, 102-103, 103-116, 135-136, 142-145, 153-155, 163-169, 169-171, 174-175, 176-177, 177-180; "Songs of Love and Friendship": 194-196, 196-198, 199-200, 200-205, 206, 207- 210.
(30) Ibid., 10.
(31) Ibid., 17, 18.
(32) Ibid., 36, 37, 40-42.
(33) Ibid., 11.
(34) The "dark night of the soul" runs throughout the history of western mysticism. See, for example, Foligno, The Memorial; St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul, Halcyon Backhouse, (ed.), (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1988); and more recently, St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, translated by John Clark, OCD, (Washington: ICS Publications, 1976). As cited in McGinn, (ed.), The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism.
(35) ASQ, ms. 198, "Recueil touchant la S(oeur) Barbier," 102.
(36) Ibid., 196.
(37) Ibid., 205.
(38) Ibid., 199. Barbier is referring here to de Glandelet's priestly duties. She seems to approve of his missionary work in the countryside, but indicates here that he has been somewhat remiss in the enactment of his urban duties.
(39) The confessor-penitent relationship has been the focus of a number of studies for numerous decades. For insights into this issue see, most recently, Jodi Bilinkoff, Related Lives: Confessors and Their Female Penitents, 1450-1750, (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2005) and John Coakley, Women, Men and Spiritual Power: Female Saints and their Male Collaborators, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006). I am currently engaged in an in-depth analysis of the director-penitent relationship.
(40) ASQ, ms. 198, "Recueil touchant la S(oeur) Barbier," 208-209.
(41) Ibid., 194.
(42) Ibid., 20, 35.
(43) I am presenting here the view of theorists, such as William James and Evelyn Underhill, who expound the "common core" thesis and hold that "mystics, however diverse their reports, are experiencing the same thing." William Harmless, S.J., "Defining Mysticism," in Mystics, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 254. Steven Katz, within the context of numerous studies, has seriously challenged this view. See his Mysticism and Language, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992) and Mysticism and Sacred Scripture, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000). To Katz, all mystical experiences are verbally and experientially different. See also Harmless, Mystics, 256.
(44) McGinn, (ed.), The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism, esp. xiv.
(45) ASQ, ms. 198, "Recueil touchant la S(oeur) Barbier," 194.