Eroticism and Pain in Mechthild
of Magdeburg's The Flowing Light



This article presents an introduction to the rhetoric of eroticism and pain in the theology of medieval mystic, Mechthild of Magdeburg (c. 1208-c. 1282/94), author of The Flowing Light of the Godhead. A survey of select texts from TFL is presented, with a focused analysis of Book IV, Chapter 12, where pain is cast in the role of a courtly intermediary between Christ and the soul. It is argued that a deeper consideration of this chapter provides significant insight into Mechthild's overall conception of pain in relation to the divine. Moreover, she writes with a coherent mystical theology of pain situated firmly within the Christian liturgy and narrative tradition.