Sandra Miesel

Sandra Miesel is a medievalist and author. She has written hundreds of articles for the Catholic press, chiefly on history, art, and hagiography, and has spoken at religious and academic conferences, appeared on EWTN, and given numerous radio interviews. She is co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code with Carl E. Olson and The Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children's Fantasy with Catholic journalist and canon lawyer Pete Vere. She holds master's degrees in biochemistry and medieval history from the University of Illinois.

recent articles

Who Burned the Witches

Since the Enlightenment, rationalists have liked to cite witch burning as a prime example of medieval ignorance and religious (usually Catholic) bigotry run amok. (Leftists today still denounce it as a cynical plot by the strong against the weak.) Writing history that way was simple: Historians catalogued horrors, disparaged religion (or at least someone else’s … Read more

Finding St. Joseph

Imagine a world where no Christian is named for St. Joseph, where no church or religious organization bears his name. Picture St. Joseph absent from the Mass, the Breviary, the Church calendar, and the Litany of Saints. No shrines, no special devotions, no hymns, no solo images, no popular customs, no festive foods pay homage … Read more

The Witches Next Door

Ecstatic dancers whirl around a woodland bonfire. Spells are cast in suburban living rooms. A pentagram-wearing priestess wanders through an interfaith festival. Today, witches can be as near as next door — and in the public square as well. Wicca is a conspicuous part of a burgeoning pagan revival in the Western world. Although hard … Read more

The Myth of Pope Joan

The Myth of Pope Joan Alain Boureau, translated by Lydia Cochrane, University of Chicago Press, 2001, 385 pages, $60 Pope Joan is one of the most tenacious myths of the Middle Ages, told and retold by Catholics and anti-Catholics alike since the 13th century. It is said that beautiful young Joan, an Englishwoman born in … Read more

Remembering Abita: Life and Faith in a Southern Town

Because my parents’ marriage failed early, I spent my childhood with my great-aunt Mamie Schlumbrecht and her husband, Albert, on a five-acre chicken farm outside Abita Springs, Louisiana. Abita, which is about 35 miles north of New Orleans in St. Tammany Parish, is now a chic town — the famous home of an excellent microbrewed … Read more

Mothering God

Like a sunbeam passing through a windowpane, the Eternal Light entered and exited His mother’s body without harming the seal of her virginity. In fact, nearly all patristic and medieval authorities taught that her delivery of Jesus was as quick and miraculous as her conception of Him.   But if being born of a virgin … Read more

The Real History of the Holy Grail

So glorious, so mysterious, the Holy Grail symbolizes an elusive object of desire.   Although now usually identified as the chalice of the Last Supper sought by Arthurian heroes, the Grail has been pictured as a dish, a ciborium, and even a white stone. Indeed, for a long time, its name had a rather mundane … Read more

Who Burned the Witches?

Since the Enlightenment, rationalists have liked to cite witch burning as a prime example of medieval ignorance and religious (usually Catholic) bigotry run amok. (Leftists today still denounce it as a cynical plot by the strong against the weak.) Writing history that way was simple: Historians catalogued horrors, disparaged religion (or at least someone else’s … Read more

A Quiet Death in Rome: Was Pope John Paul I Murdered?

In this Crisis Magazine classic, veteran journalist Sandra Miesel looks into the curious death of Pope John Paul I… including the conspiratorial claims that he was murdered.     He barely made it to the bathroom… it was hard to stand up. He clutched the sink and squinted painfully against the bright lights. Fumbling with … Read more

The Real History of the Holy Grail

So glorious, so mysterious, the Holy Grail symbolizes an elusive object of desire. Although now usually identified as the chalice of the Last Supper sought by Arthurian heroes, the Grail has been pictured as a dish, a ciborium, and even a white stone. Indeed, for a long time, its name had a rather mundane meaning. … Read more

The Grail According to Anne Catherine Emmerich

German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774- 1824) is in the spotlight these days for her contributions to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and her own impending beatification. Her visions of scriptural events published as The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1833) and The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations (1858-60) … Read more

Remembering Abita: Life and Faith in a Small Southern Town

Because my parents’ marriage failed early, I spent my childhood with my great-aunt Mamie Schlumbrecht and her husband, Albert, on a five-acre chicken farm outside Abita Springs, Louisiana. Abita, which is about 35 miles north of New Orleans in St. Tammany Parish, is now a chic town—the famous home of an excellent micro-brewed beer. But … Read more

Guest Column: The Productions of Time

Strips of picture told the story: the great mound of sand and rubble, the busy natives hefting baskets and hauling ropes under the stalwart Englishman’s eye, the mighty winged bull restored to civilization at the British Museum. At least that’s what I remember reading in an old British edition of The Book of Knowledge as … Read more

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code

“The Grail,” Langdon said, “is symbolic of the lost goddess. When Christianity came along, the old pagan religions did not die easily. Legends of chivalric quests for the Holy Grail were in fact stories of forbidden quests to find the lost sacred feminine. Knights who claimed to be “searching for the chalice” were speaking in … Read more

How the UN Is Exploiting the Population Issue

For over half a century, well-intentioned, well-educated people in the West were taught to dread an inevitable “population bomb,” caused by a worldwide explosion of births and a dearth of resources. Examples abound: • In 1946 Julian Huxley, first head of UNESCO, wrote, “War is a less inevitable threat to mankind than is population increase.” … Read more

Dismantling The Da Vinci Code

“The Grail,” Langdon said, “is symbolic of the lost goddess. When Christianity came along, the old pagan religions did not die easily. Legends of chivalric quests for the Holy Grail were in fact stories of forbidden quests to find the lost sacred feminine. Knights who claimed to be “searching for the chalice” were speaking in … Read more

A Quiet Death in Rome: Was John Paul I Murdered?

He barely made it to the bathroom… it was hard to stand up. He clutched the sink and squinted painfully against the bright lights. Fumbling with his glasses didn’t help. Why did everything look so yellow? He fought in vain to breathe, his heart quivering wildly in his chest. A lurch, a stumble, and Pope … Read more

The Universe According to Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is but one peak in a mighty range of mist-wreathed mountains. Although an estimated 150 million copies of Lord of the Rings have been sold around the globe, relatively few readers explore the vast structures of story that support this work and its prequel, The Hobbit. Tolkien’s other … Read more

The Witches Next Door

Ecstatic dancers whirl around a woodland bonfire. Spells are cast in suburban living rooms. A pentagram-wearing priestess wanders through an interfaith festival. Today, witches can be as near as next door—and in the public square as well. Wicca is a conspicuous part of a burgeoning pagan revival in the Western world. Although hard numbers are … Read more

Finding St. Joseph

Imagine a world where no Christian is named for St. Joseph, where no church or religious organization bears his name. Picture St. Joseph absent from the Mass, the Breviary, the Church calendar, and the Litany of Saints. No shrines, no special devotions, no hymns, no solo images, no popular customs, no festive foods pay homage … Read more

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