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The Reflective Essay focuses on aspects of the author’s research process, such as the importance of primary and secondary sources, in writing her paper, “Mirrors of Heresy and Visions of Holiness: Using the Works of Marguerite Porete and Angela of Foligno to Examine Heresy and Holiness in Medieval Mysticism.” Both Marguerite Porete and Angela of Foligno produced theological texts depicting the cultivation of a deep personal relationship with God and the attainment of spiritual perfection—a state of enlightenment characterized by the union of God and the soul through love. The two mystics would seem to occupy similar roles in the context of Medieval European religiosity; yet, while Marguerite was burned at the stake for heresy in 1310, Angela died a natural death in 1309, surrounded by a community of Franciscan followers, and she is now a canonized saint. The dramatically different circumstances surrounding Marguerite’s and Angela’s deaths elicit questions about the ways in which their lives diverged. Comparing and contrasting the lives and ideologies of these two female mystics through an analysis of their theological texts, this paper explores the Catholic Orthodoxy’s reactions to late thirteenth century female mystics who pushed the boundaries of conventional Orthodox structures and seeks to understand what distinguished Marguerite’s “heresy” from Angela’s “holiness.”

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