Despite the restraints placed on women in the Counter‐Reformation era, many women mystics developed strategies to achieve recognition as leaders. These included exercising harsh moral authority, using their visions to gain power and instill fear, and becoming adept at performing the sufferings of Christ and the perils of demonic possession. Once leadership was attained, the women sought to gain a positive reputation with the aristocracy through assuming a life of severe austerity and writing autobiographies and devotional works. Even with their success, however, many women suffered from intense self‐loathing, possibly associated with their repression of sexuality, and developed serious illnesses. The mystical life was understood to be one that detached itself from the world and helped ensure a good death.
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