Purification, candles, and the Inviolata as music for churching
Jane D. Hatter
There was only one ceremony or blessing in the late Medieval Catholic rite that was reserved for laywomen -- the ritual purification or churching of a woman after childbirth. Despite the vulnerability of the traditional ceremony to charges of superstition, churching was retained in or reintegrated into early Protestant practices, including Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anabaptist ceremonies. Although churching provides a rare opportunity to connect music to a central aspect of early modern women’s lives, there has as yet been no study of the soundscape of churching ceremonies nor any exploration of how this soundscape was converted for early Protestant practice. This chapter explores how these ceremonies and rituals were adapted, with controversial elements, like blessed candles, expunged or reinterpreted. How can blessed candles illuminate the gradual conversion of the churching rite and the process of negotiation? And what can study of the persistence, use, alteration, and reuse of settings of the plainchant sequence Inviolata, integra et casta es Maria contribute to our understanding of the struggle of women for continuity in ritual and musical expressions of female reproductive power?