By Cate Gunn
Ancrene Wisse and Vernacular Spirituality within the heart a while is an advent to the Ancrene Wisse—an vital thirteenth-century consultant for recluses who, for non secular purposes, withdrew from secularity that allows you to lead an ascetic and prayer-oriented lifestyles. This quantity considers the vast non secular context during which the Ancrene Wisse was once written and broadens that context by way of addressing problems with readership, drawing comparisons among lay piety and sermons, and not easy the various long-held perspectives on Ancrene Wisse’s in particular woman readership, articulating a spot for the monastic vintage within the constructing literature of vernacular spirituality.
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Extra info for Ancrene Wisse: From Pastoral Literature to Vernacular Spirituality
The religious women for whom the ‘riule’ was composed are to occupy their days with prayers and meditations, and the text largely consists of these prayers and meditations; it contains extended meditations on the nativity and passion of Christ. As in Ancrene Wisse, the reader is advised to think on the pains of Hell and the rewards of Heaven. 50 The final part of the text is an extended meditation on the Passion and Crucifixion, taken largely from the Gospel accounts. Although it took a different form, the rise in anchoritism in England in the thirteenth century should be seen as a response 45 02Wisse Pt 1 13/12/07 9:49 Page 46 THE RELIGIOUS CONTEXT to the same combination of social and religious factors as led to the development of the women’s religious movement and, in particular, the beguines, on the Continent.
Dominic saw himself and his followers as assisting bishops – those responsible for preaching and teaching – and it was as an Order of Preachers that his followers were established. These two mendicant orders that arose in the early thirteenth century can be seen as a ‘providential response to a spiritual crisis’, and as such were welcomed by Innocent III;39 but they also presented a challenge to the hierarchical authority of the Church. The Dominicans and the Franciscans, the ‘Freres Prechurs’ and ‘Freres Meonurs’, recommended as confessors in Ancrene Wisse,40 were a major force in the changing piety of the Middle Ages.
James of Vitry and others preached sermons to beguines, and these sermons – as texts offering both spiritual advice and practical guidance – bear comparison with Ancrene Wisse. Such sermons (which will be discussed at greater length in a later chapter) often have the same moderate tone and emphasis on the endurance of suffering. As in Ancrene Wisse, the spirituality expressed is both penitential and contemplative. Suffering and privation in this world was, for the beguines as for the anchoresses, both the route to eternal happiness and the price to be paid for that heavenly reward.
Ancrene Wisse: From Pastoral Literature to Vernacular Spirituality by Cate Gunn