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Catholic Dictionary

Term

INTELLECTUAL VISION

Definition

Supernatural knowledge in which the mind receives an extraordinary grasp of some revealed truth without the aid of sensible impressions. Thus St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) wrote of his seeing "the humanity of Christ with the eyes of the soul."

These visions take place either through ideas that are already acquired and that are then co-ordinated and interpreted by God, or through infused ideas, representing divine things, that are thus better perceived than a person would otherwise perceive them. At times the visions are obscure and their object is only dimly understood; at other times the perception is very clear but lasts only a moment. The mystics describe them as intuitions that leave a deep impression on the mind.

The experience of St. Paul on the way to Damascus was at once sensible, imaginative, and intellectual. He beheld the blinding light with his eyes; he saw with his imagination the personal traits of Ananias; and his mind understood the will of God (Acts 9:3-12).