Rethinking Women’s Suffering and Holiness: Gloria Anzaldúa’s “Holy Relics”
In the poem, “Holy Relics,” Chicana theorist Gloria Anzaldúa (1942–2004) interrogated Christian imaginaries of female holiness by troubling existing stories that locate holiness in passivity, suffering, and silence. Creatively envisioning the tearing apart of Teresa of Ávila's body for the sake of collecting relics, Anzaldúa showed how this notion of holiness can lead to an objectification of women's bodies and an attempt to manipulate their power. Furthermore, she revealed how conceptions of wholeness/holiness already carry fragmentation within them. By reimagining wholeness and fragmentation, Anzaldúa offered a way of rethinking suffering, one in which brokenness opens a space through which new identities and ways of being can emerge.