Maria Petyt
Maria Petyt

“Pursuit of holiness” in the Provincia Belgica Flandrica during the second half of the seventeenth century

After the religious wars of the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church went through a process of consolidation and identity formation in the seventeenth century. The aim was to guarantee an orthodox proclamation. This was accompanied by an intense search for holiness in all levels of the church. The 'Pursuit of holiness' project - in collaboration with the Institutum Carmelitanum in Rome - examines the holiness pursuits of several leading Carmelites within the Flemish-Belgian province of the Old Observance. The project consists of four sub-projects: the publication (Latin/Italian) of letters that the provincial superior, Michael of Saint Augustin (1621-1684), sent to a confrere in Rome (1); the publication of an English translation of the autobiographical life story of the mystic Maria Petyt (1623-1677) (2); a description of the Exercise of the Presence of God, as taught by Michael of Sint Augustin (3) and an analysis of female holiness models in the series 'The rays of the sonne of the Holy Father and prophet Elias, spread throughout this century...' from Jacobus a Passione Domini (4). In each of these sub-projects, a specific angle of the Carmelite pursuit of holiness is examined: in the administrative responsibility to raise the spiritual life within Carmel to a higher level (1), in the reflection that the pursuit of holiness found in the life story of a mystic (2), in the formation of novices (3) and in the cultural models of holiness of the period.


The publication of Michael of Saint Augustin's letters is expected in 2026.  The publication of the English translation of the 'Leven vande weerdighe Moeder Maria a S.ta Teresia, (alias) Petyt' is expected in 2027.


Dutch Carmel province and the Institutum Carmelitanum.

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