"A union not only of Bodies but of Spirits" The Image of the Kiss in the Commentaries on the Song of Songs of Bernard of Clairvaux and William of St. Thierry
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In twelfth-century mysticism, the Song of Songs with its sensual language gained great popularity. The image of the kiss was used to describe the ultimate union of the soul with God. I explain why the Cistercian authors Bernard and William deemed the kiss such an appropriate image for mystical union, by placing their commentaries in the context of the relationship between inner and outer senses, the Cistercians’s emphasis on theological concepts like the incarnation, and a new hierarchy of the senses that emerged in the twelfth century, in which touch and taste represent the highest degree of God’s proximity.