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Sister Thorn and Catholic Mysticism in Modern America$
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Paula M. Kane

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781469607603

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469607610_Kane

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The Americanization of Modern Sanctity

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Sister Thorn and Catholic Mysticism in Modern America

Paula M. Kane

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter considers how a Catholic community that was already convinced of Sister Thorn's charisma was preparing her as a potential saint by establishing her virtues and associating her with a network of similarly extraordinary holy individuals. The chapter considers not only Sister Thorn's personal experiences but also those of her audience by exploring how her advocates circulated stories and anecdotes about her. Within the Archdiocese of New York, the budding cult of Sister Thorn created a “mini-Christendom” that reflected the values and beliefs propagated from Rome—the institutional and moral center of the Catholic Church—but in an American context. The chapter locates Sister Thorn in relation to the saint-making process as it existed prior to its revisions in 1969 and 1983. It is suggested that stigmatic cults continue to evolve in the post-Vatican II era, enabled by new communication technologies like the Internet that have altered the ways in which audiences encounter stigmatic and visionary cults.

Keywords:   Catholic community, Sister Thorn, sainthood, Vatican II, Archdiocese of New York, mini-Christendom

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