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  • Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima
  • Grady C. Wray
Frank Graziano . Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. xiv + 338 pp. index. $49.95. ISBN: 0-19-513640-3.

In this exhaustively researched, tightly written, rigorous critical study of the life of Saint Rose of Lima, Frank Graziano carefully elaborates the cultural and historical issues that surrounded Saint Rose's life, beatification, canonization, and longlasting legend as told through varied hagiographies and archival documents. Graziano does not, however, shy away from twentieth- and twenty-first-century psychological analyses that provide passageways to other interpretations of her mystical journey. Graziano has made a significant contribution to the research on mysticism and its interpretation throughout the past seven centuries. The book will interest those who work with women's studies, religious studies (hagiography and mysticism), Latin-American studies, and history.

Wounds of Love provides a superb description and definition of the components and history of hagiography and female mysticism. In a well-outlined fashion, Graziano recapitulates the elements found in hagiographic texts and shows that saints' lives tend to be modeled on other hagiographic writings rather than on factual evidence. Thus, hagiography creates a textual fantasy that does not always represent a social reality. The historical and analytical review of hagiography makes available much information about the saints, beatas, and other religious, biblical, and historical figures important to hagiographic texts, namely: Catherine of Siena, Gregorio López, Luis de Granada, Teresa of Ávila, Mariana de Jesús of Quito, Inés de Velasco, Inés de Ubitarte, Mary Magdalen, Eve, Phillip IV, Mariana of Austria, the young Carlos II, and the character of the "mujer varonil." Careful historical and cultural analyses for topics such as the "odor of sanctity," the alumbrados, the Song of Songs, the role of the Eucharist, as well as how Christ's circumcision and severed foreskin impacted medieval and early modern Catholicism, also appear as separate sections related more to mysticism in general than specifically to Rose.

When concentrating solely on Rose of Lima, Graziano showcases her role as the first Latin-American saint and her function as a source of atonement, intercessory power, and criollo pride for the Americas (Peru in particular) juxtaposed against the Counter-Reformation Spanish metropolis. He traces Rose's rise among other characters suspicious to the religious hierarchy and the ways in which she maintained immunity in an environment of intensive Church scrutiny. Moreover, he explicates the history of her image, the iconography related to her name, and the [End Page 550] ekphrastic elements of her hagiography. Graziano's exquisite style is only enhanced when he intricately describes Rose's death and the events that follow in chapter 5.

Graziano's psychoanalytical analysis begins with Rose's mystical idiosyncrasies and expands to an examination of mysticism as a delusional phenomenon. The psychoanalytical parts of the text revolve around how mortification functions as an effective way for Rose to avoid performing unwanted tasks. He surmises that her self-destruction was heavily compensated by self-gain, and that self-injury could reflect a radical expression of independence. Self-abuse as part of a religious journey was culturally nurtured, and Catholicism provided a precedent for it. While Christ represented the bridegroom for female religious, he also functioned as a model for mortification on the cross. Celebrated manifestations of sanctity in Rose's period would merit a twenty-first-century pathological diagnosis. In fact, Graziano links medieval and early modern penitential mysticism to present-day masochism. Although some may criticize his twenty-first-century psychoanalysis of Rose of Lima's mortification and mysticism, Graziano is quick to signal the obvious cultural and behavioral differences between modern psychological phenomena that imitate Rose's experience and the cultural-historical context that interpreted Rose's behavior differently during and immediately after her lifetime.

Wounds of Love not only elucidates the events specific to Rose of Lima's life, but it also clarifies many issues related to the construction of sanctity and female mysticism. It is a vital and welcome addition to studies on Latin-American colonial women and society.

Grady C. Wray
University of...


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Print ISSN
pp. 550-551
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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