Santidad femenina, curación milagrosa y religiosidad popular en la Valencia Moderna: La Beata Inés de Benigànim

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This research focuses on the study of Blessed Inés of Benigànim, an Augustinian nun from the 17th century, in order to understand important social, cultural and religious phenomena from the early modern period. The main aim is to combine the perspectives and methodologies provided by: women’s and gender history, the history of medicine, and the history of religious practices and believes. The analysis of her figure allows to tackle different questions: the process of sainthood construction, specially female sainthood; the strategies developed by civil and ecclesiastical authorities in order to promote certain candidates to sainthood; feminine spirituality models in the baroque period, and their different manifestations; popular devotions and venerations around holy figures; the study of saints as therapeutic resource and as active agents from different ways of facing illnesses; the analysis of patients and their conscious participation, as well as the role of their relatives, within therapeutic decision making; or the key role of women in promoting certain devotions. In order to study each one of these elements, I have reconstructed the vital trajectory of this nun, whose lay name was Josefa Albiñana Gomar, her first years living in the convent, the progressive acquisition of saintly reputation and her social projection as a role model thanks to her virtues, her divine gifts, and to her privileged connections with relevant ecclesiastic and aristocrati personalities. This thesis has also considered her consolidation as an authority in giving advice and healing, her posthumous fame and the different initiatives developed in order to begin a canonization process, the progress of this process along the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and her official proclamation as Blessed Inés in 1886. This research, therefore, allows to approach this nun from Benigànim, popularly known as Mother Inés, and to understand the important position she had in Valencia in the late 17th century. This study intends to remove the hagiographic halo that has covered her image until recent times, and to approach her as an important religious and social figure of local devotion in Counter-Reformation Spain.
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