Lucio Biasiori

Images and Words of the Choice in Loyola’s ‘Spiritual Exercises’ (1541- 1600)

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Society of Jesus; Spiritual Exercises; normativity; texts and images; spiritual direction

Practitioners and interpreters of the Spiritual Exercises have always found themselves faced with the difficulty of harmonizing two different structures underlying the work: on the one hand, a division on a binary basis, marked by the sharp change of life between the first and the last two weeks; on the other hand, a more gradual and traditional division into the three ways (purgative, illuminative, and unitive) traced by late medieval mysticism and considered in conformity with the original text as conceived by the author of the work, the founder of the Society of Jesus Ignatius of Loyola. This essay shows how this latter interpretive frame was the result of a textual manipulation by those branches of the Society of Jesus who were most committed to adapting the radical conversion experienced by Ignatius to broader sectors of early modern European society. A version of the Exercises probably illustrated by Rubens shows how this strategy aimed at establishing a new normativity in the Jesuits’ reference text also included images.

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