The metaphors are the same

Even in the rigid atmosphere of Catholic sanctity, the best that mystics could do by way of expressing their ecstatic communion with God or Christ was by modeling it upon sexual ecstasy. The metaphors are the same: in the ecstatic communion the subject surrenders, burns, loses herself, is made blind or even temporarily destroyed, suffering “a little death.” When Saint Teresa of Avila talked of an “arrow driven into the very depths of the entrails and the heart,” so that the soul does not “know either what is the matter with it or what it desires,” and still more when she talks of the experience as a distress but one “so delectable that life holds no delight that can give greater satisfaction,” it was not only Bernini who was driven to depict her in terms of orgasm.

— Simon Blackburn

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