Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The She-Apostle

I never heard of Luisa de Carvajal but Stephanie Mann has a review of a new biography about her and it sounds interesting.
Luisa de Carvajal reminded me of Venerable Mary Ward, the English Catholic who attempted to establish an active order for women modeled on the Society of Jesus. On a small scale, de Carvajal succeeded where Ward failed, perhaps because of her position in Spanish society. The back cover of my paperback edition refers to her as a "martyr manque" but Redworth presents evidence that she could be considered a martyr--as her final illness might have been brought about by her imprisonment in 1614, when she was only 48 years old. I suppose an argument against that position is that she had been ill for years (which only makes her efforts and her endurance more remarkable). I admit that I never really warmed to her character, which seems to have been more than a little manipulative, but de Carvajal certainly had a great regard for the Catholic priests and martyrs working in England. She persevered in her goals to their attainment, whether hampered by her brother's demands for settlement of their inheritance, personality conflicts within her community, or official discouragement of her efforts to live and work in London as a Catholic missionary and a contact for imprisoned priests. The one part of the book I could not fathom was the description of the torture meted out to her as a young girl by her uncle and guardian; even more disturbing was her reaction to it (Redworth is definitely disturbed by it too). Excellent resources, including plates, notes, and bibliography. (Read entire review.)

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