53 Pages


B rigid, a young female servant to an archbishop-a girl loving and lovable, unworldly and selfless-is tormented by a secret: She receives visitations, advice, and instructions from her namesaint, Saint Brigid, with whom she converses regularly. The archbishop, her employer, is a cynical and domineering man, certain of his wisdom. Except for the uncharacteristic tenderness he feels for his servant, he is privately tormented by his own secret: his inner isolation and absence of authentic spiritual or human feeling despite his uncompromising adherence to accurate interpretation of church doctrine. His genuine wish to help the young girl is framed by his conviction that her experience is simply a symptom of the illness from which she must be rescued, because true religious experience cannot take such a personal form. In the course of his efforts to help her, he finds

1. An earlier draft of this essay, sponsored by Division 39 of the American Psychological Association, was presented as an invited address at the "Centennial Conference of the American Psychological Association" in Washington, DC, in August 1992, and published in Psychoanalytic Psychology, 1993,10:147-168. The author acknowledges with gratitude the invaluable personal support and intellectual input of Dr. Leopold Caligor during all phases of the evolution of the manuscript.