Original Research

Vroulike mistiek, praktiese devosie en die Kaapse piëtisme, 1700–1860

Andries W.G. Raath
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2912 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2912 | © 2023 Andries WG Raath | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 November 2022 | Published: 23 June 2023

About the author(s)

Andries W.G. Raath, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


Feminine mysticism, practical devotion, and Cape Pietism, 1700–1860. In the last phase of the Middle Ages, medieval piety and mysticism converged in the movement called Devotio Moderna (Modern Devotion). In the last decades of the fourteenth century, the Modern Devotion arose as a new religious movement in the northern Low Countries, and had a major influence upon religious life in Europe. It was particularly popular with women; but until now, there has been little research on the role of women in this movement. From the late seventeenth century, Dutch pietism manifested as a hybrid form of Protestant spirituality, with a transconfessional appeal and emphasis on personal piety. Bernard of Clairvaux influenced first-generation Reformers like John Calvin and authors of the Modern Devotion, and a century later, a strong resurgence of influence by Bernard and Modern Devotion authors from the Low Countries. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries this influence was exported to the Cape of Good Hope and the pioneering communities on the South African frontier. The study of the ego texts of pietistic feminine authors, reveals the strong impact of Roman Catholic spirituality of the Modern Devotion on feminine members of the petit bourgeoisie in South African pioneering communities. In this article, the spiritual commitment of feminine authors at the Cape and on the South African frontier, like Catharina Allegonda van Lier, Louisa Thom, Hester Venter, Dorothea Goosen and Susanna Smit to the tenets of the Modern Devotion, is investigated against the background of Dutch pietistic spirituality in the period 1700 to 1860.

Contribution: This research is a pioneering contribution to the corpus of knowledge available on the Modern Devotion, and its influence on Reformed theology. It focuses on the influence exerted by the Modern Devotion on the religious views of feminine Reformed Pietists in South Africa in the period 1700–1860.


mysticism; Modern Devotion; Cape Pietism; feminine spirituality; Cape spirituality; numinous.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 5: Gender equality


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