Fairfield University welcomes Georgetown professor Barbara Mujica reading from her novel about a "Feisty Nun" who was a saint

Bernini, Gianlorenzo
"Ecstasy of St. Teresa" 1647-52
Marble Height c. 11'6" Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome

Dr. Barbara Mujica, Georgetown University professor of Spanish and noted author, will visit Fairfield University on Friday, Oct. 12 for an Author's Forum reading and book signing of her recently published and widely acclaimed historical novel, "Sister Teresa," which explores the many facets of the controversial Saint Teresa of Ávila. The event, to be held at 3 p.m. in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library multimedia room, and the public is welcome. Tickets are $10 general admission and free for students and faculty.

Reverend Jeffrey von Arx, President of Fairfield University as well as a colleague and friend of Dr. Mujica from his days at Georgetown commented recently that the book "is a joy to read!" The author brings her customary, "imaginative touches and playful creativity. But make no mistake! This is also a work of deep erudition, though lightly worn, from a literary scholar peerless in the field of Golden Age Spain."

It is known that the young Teresa was wealthy, beautiful, spoiled and adored. Perhaps less known qualities of the saint, were her voracious appetite for life, her innate ability to charm people, her political shrewdness, her rich sense of humor, her vast intelligence and an energy combined with a determination that enabled her to buck the hierarchy of the Church, reform the Carmelite Order of nuns, found 17 convents for women and many more monasteries for men and survive the Spanish Inquisition with a secret heritage as a Jewish convert to Catholicism. According to Dr. Mujica, Saint Teresa was "one tough cookie."

The novel is a masterfully told tale that conjures a brilliant picture of sister-hood, faith, the terror of religious persecution, the miracle of salvation and one woman's challenge to the power of strict orthodoxy, a challenge that consisted of a crime of passion - Teresa's own personal relationship with God.

Dr. Mujica's painstaking research enables her to blend fact with fiction in vivid detail, while, as "Entertainment Weekly" noted in its review, "eschewing sacred sentiment for rich, gritty anecdotes," and ably "reimagines famed 16th-century Teresa of Ávila as a vibrant and fully fleshed woman not above vanity, deceit, and a little pre-convent hanky-panky."

Fr. von Arx remarked finally, "I don't think I've ever come across a treatment of a saint that makes clearer that true holiness and deep humanity are inseparable."

Saint Teresa and her legendary ecstasies were an inspiration to many, among them the master sculpture Bernini. Teresa's essence tapped his formidable imagination, and he transmitted this cerebral idea through his artistry to his world-famously arresting marble masterpiece, capturing a moment of ecstasy in the saint's life. For the quiet contemplation it deserves, the statue resides in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

For more information, please contact Elizabeth Hastings at (203) 254-4307 or by e-mail at ehastings@mail.fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 13, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 37

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