05 August 2005

Elizabeth of Schonau

The German Christian nun, Elisabeth of Schonau (1128-1164) had many visionary experiences including the following:

While we were celebrating the vigil of the birth of our Lord,
around the hour of the divine service, I came into a trance
and I saw, as it were, a sun of marvelous brightness in the
sky. In the middle of the sun was the likeness of a virgin
whose appearance was particularly beautiful and desirable
to see. She was sitting with her hair spread over her
shoulders, a crown of the most resplendent gold on her
head, and a golden cup in her right hand. A splendour of
great brightness came forth from the sun, by which she
was surrounded on all sides, and from her it seemed to fill
first the place of our dwelling, and then after a while spread
out little by little to fill the whole world. …

Elisabeth received two explanations for this vision. A ‘holy angel of the Lord’ told her:

The virgin you see is the sacred humanity of the Lord Jesus.
The sun in which the virgin is sitting is the divinity that
possesses and illuminates the whole humanity of the Saviour.

At the prompting of her (male) advisers, Elisabeth asked in a subsequent vision why this ‘humanity of the Lord Saviour’ had been shown to her in the form of a virgin and not in a masculine form. John the Evangelist responded by saying:

The Lord willed it to be done in this way so that the vision
could so much more easily be adapted to also signify His
blessed mother.

Source: Liber visionem tertius


1 comment:

Jaenia said...

Elizabeth's concept of God reminds me of a painting,
I think it was in the thirteenth century or later, by Nicolas Fromant of the virgin and child as part of the burning bush seen by Moses on Mount Saini.

She was often related to or given qualities that are dogmatically reserved for of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity.

The role of the "Mother of God" does not put a feminine principle into the mid-eastern and western concept of diety but adds an unresolved layer.