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Paulist Press

Merton, Thomas: What Are These Wounds?

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Though she was little known outside of Cistercian history, Merton gives to St. Lutgarde of Aywieres (1182-1246) wider appreciation in this biography, originally published in 1948 a fertile period in Merton s writing, marked most especially by the nearly contemporaneous Seven Storey Mountain. In this work he shows how she was the forerunner of St. Margaret Mary and the institution of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. This idea is based upon her mystical vision of the pierced Heart of the Savior wherein she experienced an exchange of hearts with him. The story of St. Lutgarde as related by Merton abounds in mystical visions and miracles. A contemporary of St. Francis, she also represents one of the first recorded cases of stigmata. Her life of profound devotion inspired Merton to take on this work. As he writes, "St. Lutgarde entered upon the mystical life with a vision of the pierced Heart of the Savior, and had concluded her mystical espousals with the Incarnate Word by an exchange of hearts with Him.