July 24th in German History: The Birth of Christina von Stommeln

Christina von Stommeln, Nordportal, Kölner Dom.jpg
Christina von Stommeln

A lesser-known religious figure, Christina von Stommeln was a German mystic and ecstatic who pre-dated better known women like Joan of Arc. She was born on July 24th, 1242.

Christina was the daughter of farmers who lived in the village of Stommeln. She reportedly began to experience visions at the age of five, and refused to be married off at the age of twelve. She ran away to join a Beguine community, a lay religious community. However, she is said to have been expelled after the populace believed her insane for manifesting stigmata and wounds on herself at the age of fifteen. She returned to Stommeln and the local parish priest took care of her. While recovering, she met Peter of Dacia, who she befriended. She lived a generally quiet life in a cloister. According to statements by the Catholic Church, she resisted the temptation of the devil numerous times. After Peter’s death in 1288, her religious visions are reported to have ceased. She died on November, 6th, 1312.

While it is easy to dismiss the details of Christina’s life as mere myths, and they likely are, that does not discount the importance of her life. She faced opposition and backlash for her claims. She, like all women during the Middle Ages, faced oppression from a social order designed to disadvantage them. Yet, she persisted, and her experiences were eventually validated, at least in the eyes of the Church, in 1908 when she was beatified, beatification being the first step towards sainthood.

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