This book examines how the writings of the thirteenth-century nun Gertrude the Great of Helfta articulate an innovative relationship between a person's eucharistic devotion and her body. It attends to her references to the biblical, monastic, and theological traditions, including attitudes and ideas about the spiritual and corporeal senses, in order to illuminate the affirmative role Gertrude assigns to the body in making spiritual progress. Ultimately the book demonstrates that Gertrude leaves behind the dualistic aspect of the Christian intellectual and devotional tradition while exploiting its affirmative concepts of bodily forms of knowing divine union.
Ella Johnson, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Theology Department at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa, where she teaches courses on systematic theology, ecclesiology, social justice, and medieval women mystics. Johnson's research focuses on women's theology and piety in medieval Christian history, especially that of the thirteenth-century Helfta writers. She has published several book chapters and articles on Gertrude the Great of Helfta in peer-reviewed journals such as Viator, Magistra, and Medieval Mystical Theology.