Review Article

The art of interpreting God’s action in the theology of three medieval mystic women

Edith González-Bernal
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2177 | DOI: | © 2021 Edith González-Bernal | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 October 2020 | Published: 28 May 2021

About the author(s)

Edith González-Bernal, Faculty of Theology, Pontificia Universitas Xaveriana, Bogota, Colombia


This study presents an approach to the theological minds of three Medieval mystical women: Matilde de Magdeburgo, Margarita Porete and Hadewijch de Amberes. Their theology is for the Church and theological matters, a source of wisdom, for they interpreted their experience of faith as imperative to make the gospel known. They lived in a time marked by significant developments in literature, artistic constructions and experiences of new spiritualities. They were part of an organisation of laywomen called the beguines who taught the art of interpreting God’s action in the being. The medieval writing of courtly love, amorous dialogue and the mystics of nothingness resounded in them. The underlying question of our study was which theological categories did these beguine women rely on to interpret God’s action in beings? As a point of departure, we performed the hermeneutic method to describe some of the theological categories that gave character to their thought, which aimed at enriching a theology that involved women’s contributions, the methods with which they constructed the knowledge and the challenges they proposed. Their theology constituted a critical voice of the androcentric and patriarchal schemes that did not allow women to teach or talk about God.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The interdisciplinary nature of the study is that the problem raised assumes a dialogue with other social science disciplines specifically. The way in which women construct a discourse on God’s action in people implies taking into account anthropological, theological, psychological and literary elements. In their openness to God’s action, human beings put into action their cognitive capacities and the knowledge derived from their cultural interaction in order to be able to speak about the experience of God in their lives. This study offers elements for fundamental theology and mystical theology.


mystics; Beguine; self-denial; dialogue; forgiveness.


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