Shut up Simon Schama.
I mean that in the nicest way possible, BTW. Ever since Freud, it appears that art historians (and sensualists) have been attributing an underlying eroticism to the works of Bernini - most famously the Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila, the sculpture 'floating' above the altar in the Cornaro Chapel situated within the Discalced Carmelite church of Santa Maria Vittoria, Rome. Other scholars have suggested - and taught - similar theories, going so far as to claim St. Teresa of Jesus is literally depicted as experiencing an orgasm. Error. I'm afraid these notions readily take hold in the collective imagination of our highly sexualized culture where even Bl. John Paul's Theology of the Body is misinterpreted for popular consumption and profit. How unfortunate.
Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini was perhaps something of a mystic himself. It was the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius which formed and informed his spirituality, subsequently helping him grasp the works of the great mystics such as Teresa of Avila. He was therefore able to translate and depict spiritual ecstasy in stone. Just as successfully he demonstrated the holy death of Blessed Ludovica, as well as the martyrdom of St. Sebastian - neither of which can be confused as erotic experiences, yet both clearly depict the physical characteristics of mystical rapture.
Spiritual ecstasy is above and beyond physical orgasm - although as John of the Cross notes in his discussion of spiritual lust in beginners, impure movements can be experienced in the sensory part of the soul - but that is definitely not what St. Teresa experienced in the Transverberation. (It is not my intention to discuss the doctrine of John of the Cross here, I simply want to acknowledge that our lower nature, our senses can be affected by spiritual experience. If the reader is interested, they can read what the Saint has to say in this regard in The Dark Night, Bk I, Chapter 4.)
I'm convinced that to promote theories on Roman Catholic mystical experience, including referencing mysteries of the faith such as the Consumatum est of Christ Crucified, (not to mention the significance of the Paschal candle at Easter) in sexual terms is inappropriate and misguided - no matter how well intentioned the source.
"They neither marry or are given in marriage." That is how Christ told us it will be in heaven. The mystics - those who arrive at transforming union, experience the closest thing possible to the Beatific Vision on this earth: Mystical marriage can neither be imagined, much less comprehended, by the carnal mind. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." - 1 Corinthians 2:14
Art: The Death of Bl. Ludovica Albertoni, Bernini, Altieri Chapel
St. Sebastian, Bernini