The Holy Harlotry of Mestizaje

  • Peter Anthony Mena
Part of the Religion and Spatial Studies book series (RSS)


This chapter describes the last of the three hagiographies under consideration in my work. The Life of Mary of Egypt—clearly intertextual and based on the two other works under investigation—describes a sexually robust woman who translates her desire for men into a desire for God. In this way she, similar to the mestizas of Anzaldúa’s borderlands, must reckon with an abundant eros that can only be appreciated and understood in its transference to the divine. Anzaldúa talks about orgasm and spirituality as intimately connected in human life. Building on prior scholarship, I elaborate how desert-borderland space makes this move possible. Rather than read this text as a tale of conversion and a diminishing of desire, I show desert space to be one that produces a mestiza able to sublimate this lust into a divine lust. The Life of Mary of Egypt articulates this transcendent desire. I use descriptions of Mary the mother of Christ in a triangulation with Mary of Egypt and a divine creator, in order to undermine the virgen/puta (virgin/whore) dichotomy and show these two concepts to be much more alike and not polar opposites.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Anthony Mena
    • 1
  1. 1.University of San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

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