In the Flesh

Heaven’s Bride
The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman
Leigh Eric Schmidt
Basic Books, $28.95, 335 pp.

Padre Pio
Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age
Sergio Luzzatto
Translated by Frederika Randall
Metropolitan Books, $35, 384 pp.


Though sex and stigmata form two poles of human experience—one anchored in the carnal union of human beings, the other issuing from the spiritual joining of human and divine—the rapture of sexual union can point to heavenly realities, just as the sanctity of stigmata can speak to more worldly concerns. Such insights inform the seductions offered by two remarkable new books. Heaven’s Bride chronicles the “unprintable life” of Ida Craddock (1857–1902), the American freethinker and self-proclaimed mystic considered by some a martyr for free speech. Padre Pio addresses the life of the revered Capuchin stigmatist of San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy. Ida Craddock died alone, by her own hand, while Padre Pio passed away (in 1968) after having been publicly acknowledged as a living saint. But despite their divergent earthly trajectories, the lives of Ida Craddock and Padre Pio...

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About the Author

Mathew N. Schmalz is associate professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.