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.

Laura Varnam

1 The church consecration ceremony and the construction of sacred space The church consecration ceremony was the chief ritual expression of sanctity in the Middle Ages, and the symbolism and practice that the ceremony established were the foundation for all subsequent encounters with sacred space. Despite this fact, surprisingly little research has been done on the ceremony. The most illuminating recent studies are Dawn Marie Hayes’s discussion in Body and Sacred Place in Medieval Europe and Brian Repsher’s The Rite of Church Dedication in the Early Medieval Era

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
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Writing home in recent Irish memoirs and autobiographies (John McGahern’s Memoir, Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People, Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark and John Walsh’s The Falling Angels)
Stephen Regan

9780719075636_4_013.qxd 16/2/09 9:29 AM Page 232 13 ‘Sacred spaces’: writing home in recent Irish memoirs and autobiographies (John McGahern’s Memoir, Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People, Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark and John Walsh’s The Falling Angels) Stephen Regan One of the familiar conventions of autobiography is its revelation of an individual life through a compelling first-person narrative voice. To work upon its readers most effectively, autobiography needs to present the life in question as both unique and typical; it must offer an appealing

in Irish literature since 1990
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Reading sacred space in late medieval England
Laura Varnam

Introduction: Reading sacred space in late medieval England In the anonymous fifteenth-century continuation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales known as The Canterbury Interlude and the Merchant’s Tale of Beryn, the pilgrims finally arrive at the sacred destination of their pilgrimage, Canterbury Cathedral, their terrestrial Jerusalem (Figure 1). The Knight and his companions make for the shrine of St Thomas Becket but the Pardoner, the Miller, and the Host linger in the nave and look around them in wonder at the architecture and the stained glass: The Pardoner and

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

, The sone owte off hyr Bosome schone. Mery hyt ys. (lines 9–12) Bestowed with Christ’s golden chalice and the Virgin’s own crown, the chapel gleams with sacred gifts. The Virgin herself illuminates 242 Epilogue the space as the sun, a symbol of her own Son and man’s salvation, shines from her bosom. Finally, St George lights the candles in the chapel and the narrator’s vision of this most sacred space is complete: Sent Iorge þat ys owre lady knyȝte, He tende þe tapyrys fayre & Bryte— To myn yȝe a semley syȝte, And By a chapell as y Came. Mery hyt ys. (lines

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
Consecration, restoration, and translation
Laura Varnam

Smithfield, London. And a fundamental part of that process is to establish the church as a sacred space by promoting and performing the church’s claims to sanctity. In the case of St Bartholomew’s, that sanctity resides in the catalogue of miracles narrated by The Book. The relationship between the textual and material church is crucial here. When the quotation above asserts that ‘trewly God is yn this place’, the referent is at once the church itself, the immediate subject of the foundation legend, and the translated document, in need of particular authorisation because

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

4 What the church betokeneth: Placing the people at the heart of sacred space In the Middle English translation of the compendium for Lollard preachers, the Rosarium Theologie, the entry for ‘edifiyng’ asks: ‘wilt þou belde þe house of God?’ If so, the reader is instructed to proceed as follows: Giffe to trewe pore men warof þei may liffe and þou has edified a resonable house to God. Men forsoþ duelleþ in beledyngz, God forsoþ in holi men. Wat kynez þerof be þai þat spoilez men & makeþ edifyngz of martirez? Þei made habitacions of men and sturbiliþ habitacions

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
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Degeneration in the Holy Land and the House of Usher
Molly Robey

Poe‘s preoccupation with degeneration, decay and dissolution is revealed in ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, not only as synonymous with the image of the arabesque, but also as dependent on contrast with the word ‘Hebrew’. A reading of the Near East as Holy Land is made possible, Roderick Usher‘s decline likened to contemporary degeneration in terms of Palestine‘s decay. Poe‘s 1837 review of John Lloyd Stephen‘s Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia, Petraea, and the Holy Land exposes his interests in biblical prophecy (including its unintelligibility and yet endurance), millennialism and apocalypse. These themes are transferred to ‘Usher’ as the houses destruction is aligned with the images and structures of biblical prophecy. The storys treatments of landscape and the house itself explore notions of constructed sacred space. In the 1837 review, describing the illumination of prophecy as ‘no less remarkable’ than its fulfilment, Poe underlines a theme of revelation that is fictionalized within ‘Usher’. Prophecy as storytelling within the text provides a means of examining Poe against the historical context in which he wrote. Other ways in which Poe‘s writings reveal nineteenth-century religious structures are potentially numerous when considered against the prophecy framework.

Gothic Studies
Itinerant death at the Ground Zero Mosque and Bali bombsite
Charlotte Heath-Kelly

became the raison d’être for groups such as Stop the Islamization of America, who ran extensive media campaigns and organised political rallies characterising the development as a ‘triumphal mosque’ and a profane violation of sacred space. As I will describe in this chapter, this activism enacted a reconstitution of disaster space – stretching the 9/11 site to incorporate Park Place. The WTC site has

in Death and security