By student Zachary Russell
-Lived* 1200 – 1268 CE
-Joined the Beguine community in 1207 for schooling. Entered the Cistercian convent in 1208. Founded her own priory in Nazareth in 1236.+
-Became a novice to the Cistercian convent in 1215. Became a nun in 1217. Became prioress of her own convent, Our Lady of Nazareth, in 1237.
-Our Lady of Nazareth, a Cistercian convent founded in 1236.
-Feast day- July 29
Beatrice of Nazareth was born in Tienen , Belgium. While the biography of her life written in the medieval period, The Vita Beatricis, does not give an exact date of birth, it can be assumed she was born around 1200 CE. Beatrice had five older siblings, and was born into a family that was most likely considered middle class. As Roger De Ganck writes, Beatrice’s family was probably “”well-to-do, but not wealthy as has sometimes been asserted” (De Ganck, 1991, xiii).
Beatrice’s mother was the first source of her education, but she passed away when she was only seven years old. Afterwards, Beatrice’s father took her to a Cistercian monastery in Florival where she continued her education. After her stay in Florival, she was sent by the Abbess of the Cistercian Monastery in Florival to the Cistercian monastery at La Ramee “to learn how to write manuscripts, especially Choir books .” While at La Ramee, Beatrice met a fellow Cistercian and mystic named Ida of Nivellese , who “helped the young woman in developing her own spiritual life”.
After her stay at La Ramee, she moved to a monastery at Maagdendal, where she was consecrated as a virigin by a bishop, and then moved to Nazareth. At Nazareth, she established her own convent as prioress in 1237, the Our Lady of Nazareth.
Around this time, she composed her most famous work, The Seven Ways of Divine Love. The fact that “she was the author of this work was only discovered by Leonce Reypens in 1925”.
“Seven Ways of Divine Love”
1. “The first way is a fierce longing engendered by Love. Before the Soul can overcome every resistance to it, this yearning must develop gradually so that it rules the heart fully, Then She can work in strength and intelligence, with the courage to grow in Love.”
2. ” The Soul is given a second way of love. Sometimes she serves the Lord for nothing, only from love, without reason or reward, even of mercy or bliss.”
3. “The third way of Love is a way of pain and misery. The good Soul may come to this way if She wants to react fully to Love, to follow Love with reverence, service, honour and worship.”
4. “The fourth way of love is sometimes given in great delight, and sometimes in great pains. Love may be pleasantly awakened in the soul and may lift it up with great happiness, so that Love moves in the heart, without any human aid.”
5. “Alternatively, love can be awakened powerfully, arising with overpowering recklessness and great passion. This is the fifth way of love. It is as if She wanted to break the heart of the Soul by brute force, tear the Soul out and lose Herself in the purging fire of Love.”
6.” When the bride of our Lord has made progress and has achieved this greater salvation, She experiences a sixth way of love, closely connected and with higher knowledge” (image of the original 6th way).
7. “The blessed soul still has a more sublime way of love, a seventh way, which gives her much to do within. She is being raised above the human measure of love, above senses and reason, higher than everything of which our heart is capable on its own.”
As one develops their love for God and passes through these 7 “ways,” the soul becomes more attuned with God’s form of Divine Love. As the Love heightens, it begins to give the individual the courage to grow closer to God, and begins to lift the soul. In the higher, final stages of love for Beatrice, once one has attuned their love to the love of God, their love begins to transcend the typical “earthly” love, and goes beyond senses and reason. The individual develops a different kind of love, a Divine Love, far above the “human love”. This transcendence requires active participation from the Soul, as the Soul must rule the heart, strive for the Divine connection, and actively lose (herself) in God’s “purging fires of Love”. When this transformation takes place, the Soul has access to not only higher knowledge, but to an entirely different reality. Truly, this level of love is “earth-shattering!”