Borderline Sanctity: Dorotheaof Montau, 1347–1394
Dorothea Swarze was born into a family of German peasant colonists in present-day Poland. She practised extreme forms of self-punishment from an early age: beating herself with rods, whips, thistles, and thorny branches; scalding herself with candles and red hot iron. She moved to Danzig and then travelled widely before and after having children (eight of her nine infants died). In 1393 she was walled into a cell at Marienwerder, becoming the first anchoress of the Prussian frontier. Her cult, including all reports of her speaking, was controlled by the Teutonic Order. First acclaimed as a bulwark against pagan Lithuania, she is later taken up by the new, nineteenth-century Prussian state (inspiring the great Germanist and novelist, George Eliot). Later, under 1930s fascism, she becomes a bulwark against Bolshevism; her canonization in 1976 is opposed by Günter Grass but supported and celebrated by Josef Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI.
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