Evelyn Underhill’s Quest for the Holy: A Lifetime Journey of Personal Transformation

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by Nadia Delicata

“What is it to be holy?” This question fashioned Evelyn Underhill’s life. The young Underhill struggled with lack of intimacy and a disembodied spirituality. Her arduous spiritual searching drove her from pursuing magic, to a meticulous empirical study of the mystics, to facing personal tragedy in the First World War. Her gradual purification and transformation flourished in her encounter with Baron Friedrich von Hiigel, her spiritual mentor. In the process, she rediscovered her Anglican roots, and gave her ultimate assent to Christ. Underhill’s mature witness to the Christian life is revealed in her final “personal little hook” and testament, “The Golden Sequence: A Fourfold Study of the Spiritual Life.”

Nadia Delicata is a doctoral candidate in systematic theology at Regis College, University of Toronto.