Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon

Mystic, born Montargis, Loiret, France, 1648; died Blois, 1717. Due to ill health her education was neglected. Married at 16, she was a widow at 28. In 1680 she became acquainted with Father Lacombe, a Barnabite; and soon she adopted the erroneous theories of her director who was a follower of Molinos. According to her, "perfection consists in a perpetual act of contemplation and love, comprising in itself all the other acts of religion." She set forth her views in her "Short and Easy Method of Prayer" and in "Spiritual Torrents." She traveled over France and Italy, giving spiritual conferences with great success. Then for a while she was shut up in a convent as suspected of heresy, but regained her liberty after a few months, and won the favor of Mme. de Maintenon, who invited her to give lectures to the young ladies of Saint-Cyr. In 1689 she became acquainted with Fenelon over whom she wielded an extraordinary influence. In 1694 her theories were submitted to a critical examination and condemned during the famous conference of Issy in which Bossuet, Fenelon, Olier, and Monsignor de Noailles took part. Later Mme. Guyon was arrested and imprisoned in the Bastille until 1703. She spent the remainder of her life in silence and solitude and in the composition of religious poetry. Her ideas have found great favor among Protestants, especially the Methodists.

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