The Life of Christina of Markyate
Samuel Fanous, Henrietta Leyser
Oxford University Press, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 100 pages
Here is the remarkable story of a twelfth-century holy woman, Christina of Markyate, who endured terrible physical and mental suffering in order to devote her life to God. This fast-moving narrative vividly describes her trials and temptations and her visionary experiences, all set against a backdrop of scheming and corruption and all-too-human greed. Determined to devote her life to God and to remain a virgin, Christina repulses the sexual advances of the bishop of Durham. In revenge he arranges her betrothal to a young nobleman, but Christina steadfastly refuses to consummate the marriage and defies her parents' cruel coercion. Sustained by visions, she finds refuge with the hermit Roger, and lives concealed at Markyate for four years, enduring terrible physical and emotional torment. Eventually Christina is supported by the abbot of St Albans and she became prioress of Markyate, and her reputation as a person of great holiness spreads far and wide. Written with striking candor by Christina's anonymous biographer, the vividness and compelling detail of this account make it a social document as much as a religious one. The editors provide an introduction which sets Christina in her social, historical, and religious context, and examines the visionary quality of her religious experiences and her powers as a seer.
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