Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The sensual saint

book cover of Saint Francis et His Four Ladies by Joan Mowat Erikson

Saint Francis et His Four Ladies by Joan Mowat Erikson

An interesting little book that I bought at a book sale a few years ago. It includes this quote from Archivum Historicum, vol.13, trans. Nesta de Robeck, Quaracchi, 1920 concerning a dream/vision had by Lady Clare about Saint Francis of Assisi. Erikson prefaced the quote with "(Clare saw Francis as having the attributes) of a nourishing mother, being a source of both spiritual and sensual sustenance." Personally, I think the sensual aspects overwhelms the motherly aspects.

"The Lady Clare also told that once she had seen St. Francis in a vision and she was bringing him a jug of hot water and with this she was ascending a long stairway, but so easily that it was as though she walked on the level earth. When she reached Saint Francis, he bared his breast saying: "Come, take and drink." And having sucked the Saint exhorted her to do so again: which doing what she sucked was so sweet and delightful that she could in no way describe it. And having sucked, that roundness, or the mouth of the pap from which the milk flowed remained in the mouth of blessed Clare; and if taken in the hand what had remained in her mouth seemed something bright and shining in which all could be seen as in a mirror, in which she saw her own reflection."

(I also can't help but wonder if there may have been a translation error somewhere)