The Church has a rich history of individuals, both men and women, who were graced with visions that revealed something about the heart of God and allowed them to enter more deeply into a relationship with Him.

These visions, commonly referred to as "mysticism," derive from a Greek term meaning "to conceal" and generally relates to mystery.

The saints, now recognized as "mystics," earned this designation because their visions unveiled previously hidden spiritual truths.

Their profound encounters characterize their experiences, which go beyond normal human experience and are regarded as gifts from God.

These gifts provide spiritual nourishment, not only to the mystics themselves, but also to all who listen to their stories and contemplate them.

Here are four women saints who experienced unique, awe-inspiring mystical visions. These stories still influence Catholic spirituality today.

Saint Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila, a 16th-century Spanish Carmelite nun, is a renowned spiritual writer, mystic, and incorruptible.

Throughout her life, she had numerous visions, including the celebrated "Transverberation" of her heart, which the Carmelites still celebrate today.

In this vision, she saw a beautiful angel holding a long, golden spear with a fire on the point.

The angel thrust the spear into her heart, and in her autobiography, she writes it “left her on fire with a great love of God.”

Saint Teresa explained the pain was spiritual, but the body had a share in it. It symbolized intense love for God, and even though it was painful, she didn’t wish to be rid of it.

Afterward she said, “The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God.”

Read her direct description of the experience here.

Saint Catherine of Siena

Saint Catherine of Siena, an Italian Third Order Dominican, lived 200 years before Saint Teresa of Avila.

She was a prominent advocate for Church reform and is recognized as a Doctor of the Church.

Throughout her life, she experienced visions and wrote extensively about them, making her a great influence on Italian literature. She was also the youngest of 25 children!

In one vision, she experienced a “mystical marriage.” In it, a marriage ceremony occurred between her and Jesus, with the Virgin Mary as the witness.

Saint John the Apostle, Saint Paul, Saint Dominic, and King David also attended. While there are slight variations in the accounts of the marriage, we do know that Jesus gave Saint Catherine a ring.

As long as she was in a state of grace, she saw the ring, even though it was invisible to others. This experience left St. Catherine with a profound feeling of deep intimacy and union with Christ.

Saint Hildegard of Bingen

Saint Hildegard of Bingen, a German Benedictine Abbess and Doctor of the Church, lived 1000 years ago.

She had intense and prophetic visions, which she diligently recorded over the years. The culmination of her efforts was the work called "Scivias," which described 26 visions.

St. Hildegard's visions bear resemblance to the book of Revelation, with themes revolving around the interconnectedness of all things, such as the relationship between the body and soul or the harmony of the cosmos.

In one vision, she witnessed the transformation of the passion into the Mass.

During the consecration, St. Hildegard saw angels, brilliant lights, and the opening of heaven. In flashes, she witnessed moments from Jesus's life, and as the priest received the body of Christ, she heard the words, "Eat and drink the body and blood of my Son to take away Eve's transgression, so that you may be restored to a noble inheritance."

When the laity approached to receive communion, she perceived a light or darkness in each individual, symbolizing the worthiness with which they receive the sacrament.

Saint Faustina Kowalska

Saint Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who lived only 100 years ago, holds a significant place in Catholic devotion.

She gained recognition for her extraordinary visions of Jesus and her dedicated efforts in popularizing the image and Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

In her diary, “Divine Mercy In My Soul," she describes Jesus revealing the image of Divine Mercy:

“I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand [was] raised in the gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale.”

Jesus then asked her to paint the image and have it venerated throughout the world. St. Faustina continued encountering Jesus after this vision, instructing her about His wishes for devotion to Divine Mercy.

These are just four examples of the diverse and plentiful mystical experiences found within Church history.

Interested in more? Check out Saint Gertrude the Great, Julian of Norwich, and Saint Bridget of Sweden!

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