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Critical Reading Assignment Negotiating Sanctity: Holy Women in Sixteenth-Century Spain - Essay Example

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Critical Reading Assignment Negotiating Sanctity: Holy Women in Sixteenth-Century Spain

This assignment provides a critical review on Ahlgren’s work based on her writing on women position in church, in Catholic Spain, during the sixteenth century. In addition, the assignment highlights arguments supporting and disagreeing with Ahlgren’s assertions. In her work, she asserts that canonization provided a significant hurdle to women in recognition of their holiness and sanctity. The church canonized fewer congregants both female and male due to pressure from protestant churches on the practice of sanctity among the Catholics. Furthermore, Ahlgren says that the revival of canonization in the seventeenth century of five saints was symbolic of the moralistic value of the process, but she seems to suggest that the lack of it undermined women’s position in the church. Sanctity is negotiable to the extent that the church determined who was worthy to be a saint through canonization. Nevertheless, she does not point out if there were consensus by the ordinary people with regards to the issue of canonization (Ahlgren 375). Additionally, Ahlgren seems to suggest that the canonization of saints enhanced sanctity since more men than women underwent canonization they achieved sanctity than women. Equating saints with sanctity is not necessarily correct; according to Kleinberg (183) saints were a cultural symbol in the medieval times. Thus, even in the sixteenth century people venerated saints, not because of their sanctity but because the society could not live up to their own hopes and beliefs. The saints provided an avenue of redemption on behalf of the society within the cult of saints rather than for their value in sanctity. The role of confessors as symbols of sanctity became more prominent in the late medieval period onwards, whilst the role of martyrs declined substantially (Kleinberg 184). Even though confessors faced numerous challenges, the fact that more men than women became recognized as confessors meant that for women negotiating sanctity became harder in a society valuing more male saints than females. The article seems to suggest that the catholic officials in Sixteenth century Spain relegated holy women into minor roles, through trials by the Spanish Inquisition. While this analogy is correct, it nonetheless paints the Spanish church as intrinsically misogynist to mention the role of Rome and the Spanish monarchy in instituting the laws governing. Similarly, the prevailing political structure and power in most of Europe constituted of monarchial systems mostly headed by male figures regardless of whether the nations were Catholic or Protestant. Cultural biases inhibited women’s position in the Church, which was not necessarily a Catholic Phenomenon but an all prevailing fact in the society at large. Ahlgren points out that, in the church’s opinion, personal and private prayer among women provided less opportunity for recognition of their sanctity. To support his point, he mentions a meeting in 1525 among some Catholics who were subsequently accused of neglecting church sacrament in favor of personal prayer; connoting that this seemed to go against church doctrine. She assumes that women chose prayer in pursuit of sanctity after failure to gain recognition in the church (Ahlgren 376). However, prayer could be a trait common among women where women had a greater role in mysticism even before the sixteenth ...Show more


25 July 2012 Critical Reading Assignment: "Negotiating Sanctity: Holy Women in Sixteenth-Century Spain" In “Negotiating Sanctity: Holy Women in Sixteenth-Century Spain”, Gillian. T, W Ahlgren provides background information on how women sought to achieve sanctity under the authority of the Catholic Church and the Spanish Inquisitors…
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Critical Reading Assignment Negotiating Sanctity: Holy Women in Sixteenth-Century Spain essay example
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