Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Scrolling through google images this morning on the theme of the Conversion of Paul (celebrated today), it struck me how the theme seems to have been a great excuse through the ages for painting huge, rearing stallions and muscular torsos.

Even elderly Pauls have a great phisique which does not really match his own description of himself at all. Eventually the paintings of horses and muscular males (sometimes even armoured) thin out and souped-up car conversions take over - an interesting continuation of the theme.

In short, I felt it was all quite needlessly

As an antidote here is an extract from Haderwijch of Antwerp, a 13th century Beguine, (a Medieval lay sisterhood devoted to good works and prayer - see below for link), about her conversion experience. It is perhaps less spectacular than Paul's, but all the same beautiful. Haderwijch often -including here -  writes about Divine Love as 'She.'

[The opening of Vision 13:]
On the Sunday before Pentecost, before dawn, I was raised up in spirit to God, who made Love known to me; until that hour, she had been hidden from me. There I saw and heard how the songs of praise resounded, which come from the silent love humility conceals ... 

There I saw and heard how the songs of praise resounded and adorned the Love of all loves.  

For more information on the Beguines, whose aspirations and spirituality were not unlike that of the Franciscan Tertiaries established by Francis of Asissi, here is an interesting essay by Elizabeth T Knuth: http://www.users.csbsju.edu/~eknuth/xpxx/beguines.html

(see links: Other Women's Voices http://home.infionline.net/~ddisse/hadewijc.html)
image: drawing of a Beguine, 1489

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