Profiles of Christian Mystics

Mysticism is not an abstract theory; it is an embodied spirituality found in the lives, writings and wisdom of people throughout history. Here are profiles of some of the most significant mystics in the Christian tradition.

Francis of Assisi

What can we learn from St. Francis today? Perhaps few of us are called to embrace the life of joyful renunciation that marked the lifestyle of Francis and his followers. But while it is not necessary to be poor in order to follow Christ, still there could be an important message in the Franciscan ideal. Read More »

Howard Thurman

When we consider also the rich mystical sensibility that characterizes Howard Thurman’s sermons and writings, it is clear that he is one of the great twentieth-century Christian contemplatives. Read More »

Julian of Norwich

In her work (the first book written by a woman in English), Julian recounts an amazing series of visions she had while suffering from a life-threatening illness; as she reflects on the meaning of her visions, she reveals a profound level of mystical wisdom and insight that, over six hundred years later, remains on the cutting edge of Christian theology. Read More »

Margery Kempe

Margery Kempe is, without a doubt, medieval England's most colorful mystic. Martin Thornton, a popular twentieth-century Anglo-Catholic writer, considered Kempe's book to be more useful to the ordinary Christian than either Julian of Norwich or The Cloud of Unknowing. Read More »

Teresa of Ávila

One of the most colorful and beloved of mystics comes from sixteenth century Spain: Teresa of Jesus, who was born in Ávila in 1515. She felt that humility and charity are essential virtues that all Christians need to cultivate, but especially so when entering into a serious and intentional life of prayer. Read More »

The Cloud Author

The author of The Cloud is a true teacher, and displays a rich and nuanced relationship with the youth to whom the book is addressed. By turns encouraging, gentle, challenging and demanding, this spiritual guide has inspired countless readers through the centuries to seriously engage with the contemplative life. Read More »

Thomas Merton

Like so many great writers, Merton's influence and legacy has only grown after his death. Nearly forty years later, most if not all of his books remain in print, and he is widely regarded as the unofficial founder of the Centering Prayer movement as well as of serious interfaith dialogue between contemplatives of different religious traditions. Read More »

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