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April Research Seminar

Pierced: Comparing the Mystical Hearts of Mary and Teresa of Avila

Date: 10 April 2024

Time: 3pm (in the UK)

Venue: Online via Zoom


In our April research seminar, Barbara Bradley (University of Edinburgh) will compare the traditions of the pierced hearts of the Mother of Jesus and Teresa of Avila.

The Heart of Mary by Leopold Kupelwieser*

The tradition of Mary’s pierced heart stems from Simeon’s prophecy in Luke 2:35 in which he tells her, “…and a sword will pierce your own soul, too” anticipating Mary’s sorrow at Jesus’s crucifixion. This verse roots the images of Mary’s immaculate heart and seven sorrows.

Centuries later, Teresa of Avila – a sixteenth-century Discalced Carmelite and mystic – recounts a vision in which an angel pierces her heart with God’s love.

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini (Photo by I. Sailko)*

Drawing on her art history experience, Barbara will compare depictions of the hearts of Mary and Teresa to consider how mystical experiences of God’s sorrow and love differ both theologically and artistically.

To join the audience, please register for the free Zoom link by sending an email to Catherine O’Brien at This is the seventh of a new series of online research seminars organised by the Centre for Marian Studies at St Mary’s University. To view the full programme, please visit:

*CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


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