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Femmes au désert

· Witness ·

Wanting to know more about “the experience of Christian life lived to the highest degree of intensity”, a French religious sister went to talk on tiptoe - in silence, one might say - with some 50 hermitesses scattered throughout Europe, North America and Asia. The result is the book Femmes au désert (Saint-Paul), which Sr. Marie Le Roy Ladurie published in 1971. In a compelling and extremely varied collection of testimonies, the hermitesses - who all wished to keep their identities hidden - tell of the various moments of their vocation: the call, formation, the hermitage, their daily bread, the hidden manna, prayer, and spiritual combat. What the testimonies, which clearly show the female matrix of the vocation, have in common is a radical response to God’s absence in a world subject to efficiency and productivity. Le Roy Ladurie seeks out the causes that explain a new interest in the eremitical life among women in the 1960s; among these causes, she gives great prominence to women’s emancipation: “Through social evolution, her professional experience, and emotional maturity a woman today can have the qualities needed for a solitary life”. A solitude freely chosen, that is, wholly different than that “solitude imposed by circumstances” that women have endured for centuries. (@GiuliGaleotti)

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St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 12, 2019

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