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I. Belgian beguinages

II. History, life, spirituality

III. Beatrice of Nazareth

life and context

7 Manners


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Lutgard of Tongeren 


Lutgard or Lutgardis of Saint Trond, or of  Aywieres, was born in 1182 in Tongeren - therefore also Lutgard of Tongeren. She was send to the black Benedictine community near St. Trond (St. Truiden) when she was twelve, because her dowry had been lost in a failed business venture. In her late teens she received a vision of Christ showing her his wounds, and at age 20 she became a Benedictine nun with a true vocation. According to her Vitae, she had visions of Christ while in prayer, experienced ecstasies, levitated, and dripped blood from forehead and hair when enraptured in the Passion. The Benedictine order was not strict enough for Lutgardis, and at age 24 she joined the Cistercians at Aywieres where she lived for her remaining 30 years. She displayed the gifts of healing, prophecy, spiritual wisdom, and was an inspired teacher on the Gospels. Blind for the last 11 years of her life, she treated the affliction as a gift, as reducing the distraction of the outside world. In one of her last visions, Christ told her (correctly, of course) when she was to die; she spent the time that remained praying for the conversion of sinners. She died in 1264 at Aywieres.

Lutgard is the patron of  women in childbirth and disabled people, especially the blind. Her memorial day is 16 June. She is mostly represented as a Cistercian nun being blinded by the Heart of Jesus; in attendance when Christ shows his Heart to the Father; as Christ shows her His wounded side; Cistercian to whom Christ extends his hand from the cross; and as a blind Cistercian abbess. (source: Patron Saints Index

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Click on the thumbnail to see a typical depiction of Lutgard embraced by the crucified Christ, who frees one arm to do so (The Vision of Lutgard, painting by Abraham van Diepenbeek (?), oil on canvas, 172x 157,5 cm, ca.1601-1667, in Kerniel-Borgloon, Abbey Marienlof;  source: Hogenelst and Van Oostrom, p.144). 

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Lutgard's biography, the Vita Piae Lutgardiā was written by the Dominican Thomas of Cantimpre, who also wrote the Vitae of Christina the Astonishing and of Margaret of Ypres, and added to Jacques of Vitry's Vita of Marie d'Oignies. Thomas's Vita Lutgardis was most famously translated into the Brabantian dialect by the Benedictine William of Affligem. Click on the thumbnail above to see three pages from Affligem's Vita. On the first page he is depicted, not in the usual pose of writing, but as speaking. On the second page you see Lutgard on her deathbed, surrounded by fellow Cistercian nuns. On the third page, a Benedictine (possibly William of Affligem), is praying to Lutgard, who from the window of heaven places a crown on his head, as two angels hold open the shutters. (all from Hs. Copenhague, Kongelige Bibliotek, Ny kongelige samling, left to right, 168, quarto, f. 1v., quarto, f.168v., quarto, f.255r.; source: Hogenelst and Van Oostrom, p.75) 

Cf. also McGinn on Thomas and Lutgard in The Flowering of Mysticism, 165-66.