Inventing the Sacred

Imposture, Inquisition, and the Boundaries of the Supernatural in Golden Age Spain


This volume examines the Spanish Inquisition’s response to a host of self-proclaimed holy persons and miracle-working visionaries whose spiritual exploits garnered popular acclaim in seventeenth-century Spain. In an effort to control this groundswell of religious enthusiasm, the Spanish Inquisition began prosecuting the crime of feigned sanctity, attempting to distinguish “false saints” from their officially approved counterparts. Drawing on Inquisition trial records, confessors’ manuals, treatises on the discernment of spirits, and spiritual autobiographies, the book situates the problem of religious imposture in relation to the Catholic church’s campaigns of social discipline and confessionalization in the post-Tridentine era and analyzes the ways in which conceptual controversies in early modern demonology, medicine, and natural philosophy complicated the church’s disciplinary aims.

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Andrew Keitt, Ph.D. (1998) in History, University of California, Berkeley, is Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
'In all, Keitt's is a useful book, and should interest many, providing as it does a close analysis of how elite thinkers and more mundane madrilenos understood sanctity in the latter half of the Hapsburg era.'
Gretchen Starr-LeBeau, The Medieval Review, 2006.

Awarded an "honorable mention" (i.e. tied with one other book for first runner up) for the Best First Book Prize (2004-06) of the Society for Spanish and Portuguese Historical studies. The committee stated: “Keitt’s book develops a series of important points on wide-ranging subjects: religion and the court, social discipline and control, reform efforts, demonology, false sanctity and a host of others. It's based on original research that is carefully laid out and is very accessible to the reader. It is, in short, a convincing work”
'In addition to its careful analysis of the key court cases, this book also offers an intelligent study of changing early modern perspectives on nature and the supernatural, on the scope of medicine, and on the stability (or lack thereof) of the human personality. It will be of interest therefore not just to scholars of Spain but to anyone who studies the European early modern period.'
Jessica A. Coope, The American Historical Review, 111.4

"...Andrew Keitt has achieved a remarkable feat at various levels. First, he has plumbed the archival sources and the printed literature very thoroughly and judiciously. Second, he has engaged with all of the scholarship on a broad range of related subjects: Inquisition studies, mysticism, social disciplining, and gender
studies, to name a few. His engagement with the scholarly literature is so thorough, in fact, that it turns the book into a very serviceable annotated bibliography. ...From now on, this book should become required reading for anyone seriously interested in early modern religious history..."

Carlos M.N. Eire, The Catholic Historical Review 93.4 (2007)
Acknowledgements.. vii
Introduction. False Saints and Scandalous Impostors.. . . 1

Chapter One. The Case of Mateo “the Holy Mat-Maker”.. . . 13
Mateo in Madrid.. . . 14
The Trial of Faith.. . 19
A Captive’s Audience.. . 23

Chapter Two. Royal Madrid: New Babylon or Catholic Court.. . 35
Villa y Corte.. . 35
Babylonian Madrid.. 38
A Sacralized Cityscape.. . . 40
An Inquisition for Madrid.. 45

Chapter Three. Visions of Uncertainty.. . . 55
Jean Gerson and the Discourse of Discernment.. . . 56
Embodied Spirituality.. 65
From Illuminism to Imposture.. 78

Chapter Four. Interiority, Discipline, and “Unconfined Women” . . 87
Interiority and Social Discipline.. . 88
Beatas at the Catholic Court.. . . 91
Spiritual Governance, Popular Piety, and Gender.. 99
Publicizing Piety.. 107

Chapter Five. Spiritual Plagiarism.. . 114
Counter-Reformation Self-Fashioning?.. 116
The Writings of María Bautista.. . . 118
Impersonating Saint Teresa.. 129

Chapter Six. The Miraculous Body of Evidence.. . 139
Medical Discourse and Visionary Experience.. . . 144
Naturalization and Its Discontents.. . . 151
Deposing the Devil.. 172

Chapter Seven. Medicinal Monarchy.. . 183
Medical Politics.. . 183
Philip IV and the Construction of Royal Thaumaturgy.. 193

Conclusion.. 202

Works Cited.. . 207

Index.. 225
This book will appeal to all those interested in the cultural and intellectual history of Spain, the history of religion, Inquisition studies, and the history of medicine.
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