Department: Pastoral and Social Studies
Research Area: 19th Century French Spirituality
Subject: Elizabeth of the Trinity
Elizabeth Catez (1880-1906), known as Elizabeth of the Trinity in religion, was a French Carmelite nun beatified by John Paul II in 1984. Popular knowledge of her life and mystical thought has been somewhat overshadowed by the cult of her near contemporary and sister in Carmel Thérèse of Lisieux. Reception of her type of thinking has been made more difficult since 1900 by William James’ definition of mysticism as a cross creedal phenomenology of ‘peak experiences’, an idea now taken by many as normative. In the last 40 years some have argued that this has led to misunderstanding and marginalisation of the long established Western mystical tradition within mainstream theology. The aim of my historical study of Elizabeth is to show her profound Trinitarian mysticism, which sees personal transformation as the basis of the lived Christian life, as a timely corrective to this misunderstanding. At the same time this corrective may also make a contribution to ongoing debates about the disjunction between Spirituality and Theology.