Beatrice of Nazareth, Bl.

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Cistercian nun and spiritual writer; b. Tirlemont, c. 1200; d. Notre Dame-de-Nazareth, near Lierre (Brabant), August 29, 1268. Beatrice (Beatrijs van Tienen) was only seven when her father placed her with the Beguines at Léau. Later, he transferred her to Bleomendael, a Cistercian abbey he had just founded. When she was about 17 years old, she was received into the religious life. A second foundation of the community was made at Maagdendael, and she was sent there. When a third house was opened at Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth, she was made its prioress and remained there until her death.

From an early age she kept notes on her ascetical and mystical experiences, and among these were included little treatises on spiritual topics. The autobiographical notes have been lost, but after her death they were abridged and translated into Latin by a Cistercian monk (perhaps Guillaume d'Affigham, abbot of Saint-Trond) in the form of a biography. Data contained in the biography have made it possible to recognize as the work of Beatrice a treatise entitled De divina charitate et septem ejus gradibus, or Van seven manieren van Heiligher Minnen, which survived in a collection of sermons entitled Limburgsche Sermoenen that appeared in the early fourteenth century. This is the oldest known essay in Old Flemish and treats experimentally the ascent of the soul toward union with God in a manner that causes the reader to think of St. Teresa's seven castles of the soul.

Beatrice had a special devotion to the Sacred Heart and with this she associated the idea of reparation. Often ill, she was given to excessive penances, and her writings are not free of certain morbid, pathological characteristics. Her importance lies in her description in the vernacular of the speculative mysticism practiced by Beguines at the beginning of the great flowering of Flemish spirituality.

Feast: July 29.

Bibliography: beatrice of nazareth, Seven Manieren van Minne, ed. l. reypens and j. van mierlo (Louvain 1926). Vita Beatricis, Dutch tr. as Hoezeer heeft God mij bemind, ed. h. w. j. vekeman (Kampen, Netherlands 1993); Eng. tr. The Life of Beatrice of Nazareth, tr. r. de ganck and j. b. hasbrouck (Kalamazoo, MI 1991). r. de ganck, Beatrice of Nazareth in Her Context, 2 v. (Kalamazoo, MI 1991). g. j. lewis, Bibliographie zur deutschen Frauenmystik des Mittelalters (Berlin 1989).

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Beatrice of Nazareth, Bl.

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Beatrice of Nazareth, Bl.