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The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building, idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts.

saved. […] The third purpose is that prayers offered in the church be surely heard. […] The fourth reason for the consecration of the church is to provide a place where praises may be rendered to God. […] Fifthly, the church is consecrated so that the sacraments may be administered there.6 The practice of consecration ensured that the church truly was God’s house on earth and that his eyes and ears would have attendance upon the building and its congregation (1 Kings, 8.29; 2 Chronicles, 6.40). The consecration ceremony enabled the community to ‘communicate with and

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture

. 134 The very existence of religious schools was seen as a threat to the unity of the Republic, though for some time to come – much to the chagrin of the anticlerical press 135 – local councils were still calling on religious congregations to staff their school. Nevertheless, from the perspective of societal secularisation, republican cohesion through secular education indicated the displacement of the values formerly binding society – as well as the ‘volonté d’extirper toute idée religieuse’ 136 – and society’s reconfiguration into a system of secular or this

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
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sent Collas [Nicholas] þe mas gane syng, sente Ihon toke þat swete offeryng, And By a chapell as y Came. Mery hyt ys. (lines 5–8) In this ‘chanson d’aventure’ we enter a wonderful space in which the saints have stepped down from the painted walls of the church to officiate the mass and ring the bells, calling the congregation to God’s house on earth. Christ and the Virgin are in attendance, portrayed as prosperous donors offering up richly symbolic gifts: Owre lorde offeryd whate he wollde, A challes alle off ryche rede gollde; Owre lady, þe crowne off hyr mowlde

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Placing the people at the heart of sacred space

religious experience. It is no surprise that the mid-fifteenth century saw the translation into Middle English of the sections of Durandus’s Rationale that dealt with this very relationship and formed the foundation of medieval thinking about architecture, community, and sanctity. What the Church Betokeneth is a text whose renewed relevance shows just how inseparable the 232 The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture material building and its congregation really were and it provides the enthusiastic supporters of England’s fair churches with a

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
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Pastoral care in the parish church

with the visual and material decorations of the parish church, taught the laity how to conduct themselves as good Christians, in particular with respect to the space of the church itself. The requirement for yearly confession meant that the laity needed to be able to identify their sins, and a major area of concern was the sins that took place in and around the parish church. This is crucial because it is specifically the sanctity of the church that is threatened by lay misbehaviour. It is the duty of the parish priest to teach his congregation how to behave in order

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture

, rejecting individual secularisation means not totally abandoning buffered individuality, but opening it to the possibilities which religious porosity makes available. Verlaine and Thompson exemplify in other words the openness of which immanence is capable. Marriage In a period of waxing secularisation which had seen divorce legislation and, in France, considerable hostility to religious congregations, it is no surprise that Christian marriage and the monastic life become key concerns for many Catholic writers. Seen in

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914

grip on all its ministers and congregations. It is therefore simple Protestant propaganda which makes people think of Scotland as a Presbyterian country. There were Catholic enclaves in plenty; the Episcopalian Church (essentially an Anglican version or imitation), flourished in various parts of the Lowlands; and a variety of -isms which rose to bestrew the religious landscape, like mushrooms in the night.41 In 1690, to be sure, the Westminster Parliament had attempted to impose Presbyterian government on Scotland by statute, but the results were not what that body

in Beyond the witch trials

contemporaries ‘shame not to say and affirm openly … that they learn as much or more at a Play, than they do at God’s word preached’.7 Clergymen, however, also experienced confessional conflict themselves and consequently could escalate the conflict amongst their parishioners. Despite the objections of their congregations we know that at least initially many persisted with old religious practices, and despite the best efforts of the authorities, other preachers also expounded on new, unsanctioned Puritan doctrine from their pulpits.8 Although non-​conforming clergy could leave

in Forms of faith

Shylock’s conversion. Act 4’s echoes of the passion and crucifixion are well known. But if Act 4 alludes to Good Friday, Act 5 alludes  2 22 Religious ritual and literary form to Holy Saturday and the dawning of Easter Sunday. Beginning with the love duet between Jessica and Lorenzo and continuing through the end of the play, Shakespeare repeatedly evokes the ancient Easter Vigil service, the heart of which involved the reception of new converts into the Church. This extended liturgical allusion suggests the play’s continuing preoccupation with Shylock; at the same

in Forms of faith