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Author: Laura Varnam

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.

John McLeod

Interrogating the text Writing about her experience of the study of English literature in India, Meenakshi Mukherjee has defended postcolonialism as an emancipatory concept on the grounds that ‘it makes us interrogate many aspects of the study of literature that we were made to take for granted, enabling us … to re-interpret some of the old canonical texts from Europe from the perspective of our specific historical and geographical location’ ( Interrogating Postcolonialism: Theory, Text and Context , eds Harish Trivedi and Meenakshi Mukherjee, Indian

in Beginning postcolonialism (second edition)
Shayne Aaron Legassie

9 The pilgrimage road in late medieval English literature Shayne Aaron Legassie Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a pilgrimage road. Economic historians concede that the practice of pilgrimage exerted tangible effects on the development of cathedrals, monasteries and towns, but they quickly add that there is no conclusive evidence that pilgrimage was the primary impetus behind the construction or maintenance of any medieval English roads.1 As is the case with most of the important pilgrimage destinations of medieval Christian Europe, English shrines

in Roadworks
Abstract only
Reading sacred space in late medieval England
Laura Varnam

The introduction establishes the methodology for reading sacred space in Middle English literature through an examination of the fifteenth-century text ‘The Canterbury Interlude’, in which Chaucer’s pilgrims arrive at Canterbury Cathedral, visit the shrine of Thomas Becket and argue over their interpretation of the stained glass. The chapter explores the relationship between texts, buildings, visual art, and lay practice in the production of sanctity and sets up the theoretical framework for discussing the church as sacred space. The chapter argues that sacred space is performative and must be made manifest, with reference to Mircea Eliade’s concept of the hierophany, and suggests that sacred space is a powerful tool in the negotiation of social relationships. Finally, the chapter discusses sanctity as a form of symbolic capital in an increasingly competitive devotional environment.

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Consecration, restoration, and translation
Laura Varnam

Middle English translation of The Book of the Foundation directly follows a transcription of the original Latin foundation legend in the British Library, MS Cotton Vespasian B IX, dated c. 1400.2 St Bartholomew the Great was founded in Smithfield, just outside the walls of the city of London, in 1123 by Rahere, 62 The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture who received his instructions from St Bartholomew in a vision and become the first prior, and the Latin foundation legend was composed some fifty years after the building process began. St

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

church in the fifteenth century. It was the building that, as Henri Lefebvre argues, offered ‘each member of society an image of that membership, an image of his or her social visage’, and parishioners could increasingly contribute 180 The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture to that image, donating decorations such as stained glass windows, and funding much-needed restoration and rebuilding work.3 The materiality of the church could not be ignored. Indeed, it was subject to serious scrutiny from a wide range of writers who debated the

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

kepe. (19–26) 124 The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture When she is in church, the daughter must prioritise prayer over ‘jangelynge’, the sin of gossip and idle speech that is a constant concern in pastoral care material. The Good Wife instructs her daughter to ‘take kepe’ of her advice because ‘worschype’ begins with ‘gode berynge’, but it is not merely the worship of the individual that is at stake here. It is the worship of the church itself. The pastoral care material that I will examine here arose in the wake of the Fourth

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

understanding a community’s subsequent sacred practice.5 The themes, images, and methods of construction delineated here will, therefore, be a touchstone throughout this book. 34 The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture The meaning and purpose of the consecration ceremony In his sermon for the dedication of a church, Jacobus de Voragine declares that there are five purposes behind the consecration ceremony: The first is to drive out the devil and his power […] Secondly, the church is consecrated in order that those who take refuge in it in may be

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library