cover image Autobiography of an Aspiring Saint

Autobiography of an Aspiring Saint

Cecelia Ferrazzi, Cecilia Ferrazzi. University of Chicago Press, $35 (136pp) ISBN 978-0-226-24446-4

Cecilia Ferrazzi's story is that of a 17th-century woman who struggled to achieve spiritual holiness and to help womankind avoid degradation and pain. For her work and her supposed ""cynical feigning of holiness,"" she was brought before the Venetian Inquisition, which denounced her in 1664. In her testimony, she recounted her spiritual warfare with the Devil and trances in which her debilitating physical illnesses were banished through her faith. After her testimony, she dictated a detailed ""autobiography"" in which she painted an astounding portrait of her spiritual and physical struggles in greater detail, as well as her courageous work running houses of refuge for ""girls in danger,"" young women at risk of being lured into prostitution. Schutte points out, in her long introduction, that the preservation of Ferrazzi's story constitutes a miracle in itself, for Ferrazzi's trial transcripts and her autobiography were kept secret until 1990, when they were first published. Some 300 years later, then, we have a disturbing window into the world of one woman's spiritual quest in a time of tremendous obstacles. The book contains a helpful glossary of names and places. (Dec.)