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Hindiyya, Mystic and Criminal, 1720–1798

Hindiyya, Mystic and Criminal, 1720–1798

A Political and Religious Crisis in Lebanon

Bernard Heyberger
Trad. Renée Champion
Cambridge,  James Clarke & Co, 2013 [2001],  336 p.
Prix : 25 Livres sterling
In this compelling narrative, Bernard Heyberger relates the fascinating history of Hindiyya 'Ujaymi, a highly charismatic Levantine mystic of sinister repute. Heyberger makes a careful study of Hindiyya's life from earliest childhood, with a detailed picture of her formative years in the eighteenth-century Christian community of Aleppo, the domestic reality of which is little known, exploring the influences she would have experienced. He leads us through her spiritual development under the direction of the Jesuits, her determination to found a new religious order in Lebanon, and the tragic history of its collapse in a welter of paranoia and persecution. Heyberger also reveals the tensions and complex rivalries at play around Hindiyya between Rome, the Jesuits, and the ancient tribal alliances of the society in which she lived. He makes extensive use of a wide variety of sources, from Hindiyya's own writings to reports from her confessors and Roman inquisitors, to shed light upon the Hindiyya affair. Translated into English by Renee Champion, Hindiyya, Mystic and Criminal, 1720–1798 conveys the story of a woman of inflexible power of will and great charisma, who managed to move beyond the circumscribed world of her girlhood and realise what she believed to be her destiny. It will be of great interest to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of an intriguing passage of Lebanese history and to those interested in eighteenth-century Maronite Christianity and its complex interactions with the authority of Rome.

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