Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference 2016

  • Laura Ventura Nieto (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


'Sweet-Tasting Suffering'. Religious Mysticism, Saint Teresa of Ávila and Italian Depictions of Saint Cecilia

Early-modern Catholicism included some spiritual practices that were extremely eroticised. For example, mysticism had a sense of religiosity lived through corporeal experiences, including visions and the belief in a mystic union with Christ. The Spanish nun Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) in her writings narrating her visions include highly eroticised overtones to describe experiences that, although appearing impossible to verbalise, brought her true wisdom. These accounts informed the artistic productions of the period, such as Bernini’s famous sculpture representing the saint herself during her ecstasy. Saint Cecilia had a close relationship with music, being even considered its patroness, and her musical images started to multiply from the sixteenth century onwards. Moreover, her story has links with acquiring wisdom through conversion and includes visits of angels, which parallel Saint Teresa’s own religious experiences. Some of Saint Teresa’s writings were published in Italy in 1599, the same year Saint Cecilia’s remains were exhumed and representations of the martyr started to multiply. This paper will explore how mystic literature in general, and Saint Teresa’s writings in particular, could have informed the paintings of Saint Cecilia that appeared at very end of the sixteenth century.
Period5 Jul 2016
Event typeConference
LocationSheffield, United KingdomShow on map