During my travellings through Italy I had an encounter that would change my life in a profound way, with Matilda of Canossa. She was countess of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna in the XI-XII century, and one of the most remarkable women in the history of Europe. She is also the only woman buried in St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican. And there sits a double-tailed mermaid above her tomb. That triggered my curiosity. I embarked on a journey to find out more about her life, and to find an answer to my question why she was buried in the Vatican and to decipher the enigmatic symbols on her tomb.

It brought me on a journey of discovery along the many sacred places that she left to the world: churches and monasteries, often sanctified with sacred relics. Together they form a route of pilgrimage. And indeed traveling along her places came out to be a true journey of the soul for me. Matilda soon appeared in my dreams, sharing her wisdom with me, ànd giving me indications about where to go and what to do. My journey along her places clarified a lot about my own inner path. In the end it gave me a new perspective on the place of the feminine in the Vatican. It brought me into contact with a message that wants to be heard now, 900 years after her death. Nothing happens by coincidence, it’s all meant to be…


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Matilda's tomb in Rome

The book


Afbeelding 1It all resulted in a book, in which I take the reader with me on my journey of discovery. In this work all my Afbeelding 5passions of the past years are coming together: sacred landscapes, the double tailed mermaid, mysticism and spirituality, the meaning of symbols, the labyrinth, the forgotten role of women in history, the history of the feminine divine, the importance of the sacred couple, the seven stages of spiritual consciousness, and the journey towards the heart. It’s a book that explores the space between science and spirituality. And it made me appreciate the taste of the pomegranate!

The book is beautifully designed by Dafne Arlman and published in Dutch, Italian and English, at the occasion of the Matilda year in 2015, 900 years after her death. You can order a copy in your preferred language at my special Matilda blog page, where you can also follow my continuing story with Matilda.

The journey

You can also travel with me along what I now call the Matilda-line, all the way through Italy, along the places of my book: from Mantova (her place of birth) over the Apennines to Lucca, and then along Bolsena to Rome. Since 2014 I have together with Dafne Arlman guided each year a group along this course, and we intend to continue. It has always been a soul journey for all the participants, and for that also a joint adventure, rooted in the principle of co-creation. Keep a look at my agenda and at at for the dates, and how to enroll, or subscribe to my newsletter to keep informed.

In the period to come I will offer also smaller parts of this journey, or you can write me if you want me to guide you in a personalized tour along some of the places, or a joint seminar about Matilda and her meaning for the times we live in.

Book presentations

One of my goals in writing the book was to bring the story of Matilda back into the world. That’s also why I intend to continue to give book presentations, in the Netherlands and Italy and maybe also elsewhere. During my tournee with the book through Italy in 2015 I discovered the beauty of bringing the book to the places that figure in it, and to connect with the people who are living there now. Often it brings them a new awareness about the importance of their town or village, also in the larger story of Italy and Europe: a story with a woman as protagonist…

Keep an eye on my agenda if you want to come to one of these events. And of course you can also invite me to come to your place, and to present the story of Matilda there. If you want so and have the space, I can also come with the portable heart labyrinth ‘Cuore di Matilda’ to make the connection at an even deeper level…


For your information: I do my presentations in Dutch, English and Italian.

Selma Sevenhuijsen has dared again to follow her dreams. She steps in the traces of a woman from the early Middle Ages, who managed to let the highest worldly power to go to Canossa and followed her own spiritual path to Rome. The author follows her footsteps, honoring the image and the symbolics of the double tailed mermaid. The story gets untangled in the heart of the Vatican, and is not less than the Da Vinci Code, but goes even further, by the ‘uncovering of the force of universal love’. A force that lovingly takes the power by the hand, so that Matilda’s wish of the heart will be fulfilled: that women can be fully priests and can hold every office in church. All in all a universal and topical story, masterly written.  Jan-Willem de Goeij

A journey with Selma is a blessing. She showed and made us experience places that we would we would have never found on our own. It was a fascinating pilgrimage, that made Matilda di Canossa into a living person for us. A journey that will stay with us for long. The rituals that we made together provided a special depth to this pilgrimage. Warmly recommended!    Simon Ruiter and Mario de Groot.

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Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.  Khadil Gibran