Illumination from Liber Scivias, showing Hildegard of Bingen receiving a vision, dictating to her scribe and sketching on a wax tablet.

A vision is something seen in a dream, trance, or religious ecstasy, especially a supernatural appearance that usually conveys a revelation.[1] Visions generally have more clarity than dreams, but traditionally fewer psychological connotations. Visions are known to emerge from spiritual traditions and could provide a lens into human nature and reality.[2] Prophecy is often associated with visions.


Vision of Thomas Aquinas in the Vatican Museum

Evelyn Underhill distinguishes and categorizes three types of visions:[3]

  1. Intellectual Visions – The Catholic dictionary defines these as supernatural knowledge in which the mind receives an extraordinary grasp of some revealed truth without the aid of sensible impressions, and mystics describe them as intuitions that leave a deep impression.[4]
  2. Imaginary – In Teresa of Avila's The Interior Castle, an imaginary vision is defined as one where nothing is seen or heard by the senses of seeing or hearing, but where the same impression is received that would be produced upon the imagination by the senses if some real object were perceived by them.[5] Niels Christian Hvidt refers to them as visions recognized through mechanisms of the human psyche that are made up of things a soul has acquired through contact with reality.[6]
  3. Corporeal – A supernatural manifestation of an object to the eyes of the body. It may take place in two ways: either a figure really present strikes the retina and there determines the physical phenomenon of the vision, or an agent superior to man directly modifies the visual organ and produces in the composite a sensation equivalent to that which an external object would produce.[7] Underhill refers to this vision type as "little else than an uncontrolled externalization of inward memories, thoughts, or intuitions"[3]


Visions are listed in approximately chronological order whenever possible, although some dates may be in dispute.

See also


  1. ^ "Definition of VISION". Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  2. ^ Schreuder, D.A. (2014). Vision and Visual Perception. Archway Publishing. p. 671. ISBN 978-1-4808-1294-9. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b Underhill, E. (2017). Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. Devoted Publishing. p. 148. ISBN 978-1-77356-004-5. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  4. ^ "INTELLECTUAL VISION". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  5. ^ Saint Teresa (of Avila) (1852). The Interior Castle, Or The Mansions. T. Jones. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  6. ^ Hvidt, N.C. (2007). Christian Prophecy: The Post-Biblical Tradition. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-19-531447-2. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Visions and Apparitions". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  8. ^ Ezekiel 1:4–28
  9. ^ "Daniel 7:13". Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Acts 9:3-9". Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  11. ^ Zimdars-Swartz, S.L. (2014). Encountering Mary: From La Salette to Medjugorje. Princeton Legacy Library. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-6163-7. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  12. ^ Akin, Jimmy. "Who Was the Early Visionary St. Perpetua?". NCregister. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  13. ^ Cruz, J.A.H.M.; Gerberding, R.A. (2004). Medieval Worlds: An Introduction to European History, 300-1492. Houghton Mifflin. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-395-56087-7. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  14. ^ Rackham, Oliver (2007). Transitus Beati Fursei - A Translation Of The 8th Century Manuscript 'Life Of Saint Fursey'. Fursey Pilgrims. ISBN 9780954477325. Retrieved 30 December 2023.
  15. ^ "Boehme, Jacob". Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  16. ^ Keevak, Michael (1992). "Descartes's Dreams and Their Address for Philosophy". Journal of the History of Ideas. 53 (3). JSTOR: 373–396. doi:10.2307/2709883. ISSN 0022-5037. JSTOR 2709883. PMID 11623059.
  17. ^ "Blaise Pascal Scientific and spiritual prodigy". Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  18. ^ Swedenborg, E. (1975). Small Theological Works and Letters of Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg Society. ISBN 9780854480814. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  19. ^ "First Vision Accounts",, LDS Church, retrieved 16 July 2018
  20. ^ Anderson, Richard L. (1989). Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses. Deseret Book Co. ISBN 9780877478461.
  21. ^ Zaleski, P.; Zaleski, C. (2006). Prayer: A History. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 162–163. ISBN 978-0-618-77360-2. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Nat Turner's Rebellion". Retrieved 16 July 2018.