First Advisor

Christine Rose

Term of Graduation

Spring 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Guyon, Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte, 1648-1717 Quietism -- France



Physical Description

1 online resource (189 pages)


At the center of the heated Quietist Controversy in late seventeenthcentury France was Jeanne-Marie Guyon, whose writings and teachings on inner prayer were similar to those of recognized Catholic mystics. Unlike celebrated mystics, however, Mme Guyon expounded a doctrine which seemed to concentrate not only on holy indifference, but on herself as the sole mechanism by which others could attain union with God. A careful reading of the writings of Mme Guyon reveals a woman obsessed with herself --her salvation, her martyrdom, her popularity, and her superiority. Such a description corresponds perfectly with the suggestions of her foremost persecutor, the bishop of Meaux, Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, that she saw herself as a living saint, above and beyond the mystics of the past, more powerful than the priests of the present, and positively ensured that she was the true bride of Christ who would rule beside him in the future. In order to make sense of Mme Guyon's interpretation of herself, this thesis seeks to unite various aspects of her writings and personality, including the imagery of the Book of Revelation, sainthood, mysticism, sensuality in reference to Jesus, and persecution. Ultimately I suggest that her writings sought to prove her own assertion that she was the woman of the apocalypse, the highest level of saint in the Glorious Orders. Mme Guyon's autobiography appears to be a consciously constructed hagiography to serve in fortifying this image of herself. This self-canonization, compounded by the awkward imitation of accepted mystical doctrine, was central to Mme Guyon's condemnation in the French Quietist debates of the late seventeenth century.


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