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Holy Matter

Changing Perceptions of the Material World in Late Medieval Christianity

Sara Ritchey

Publication Year: 2014

Published by: Cornell University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

While developing this book, I attended an annual conference on the history of medieval Catholic doctrine and practice. The thematic strain of the meeting that year was “Nature,” making this conference an ideal opportunity to engage multidisciplinary approaches to the...

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pp. 1-23

“The world and humankind became wild— another world,” beamed the voice of God to his eager pupil, Catherine of Siena, offering her a brief symposium on the rationale and processes of the creation and re-creation of the world.1 In the first creation, he explained...

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1. The Mirror of Holy Virginity

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pp. 24-54

The Speculum virginum is one of the most important documents we have for understanding the lives of religious women in the twelfth century. Written around the year 1140, most likely in the Rhineland region of what is today Germany, this text can be seen as part...

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2. Viriditas and Virginitas

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pp. 55-90

The image of Hildegard of Bingen’s merry band of virgins, attired in silken garments and embroidered crowns during tony feast day celebrations, has captured the imagination of scholars, filmmakers, and medieval enthusiasts alike.1 These “blithe noble virgins” donned...

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3. Clare of Assisi and the Tree of Crucifixion

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pp. 91-126

Leaving behind the twelfth century and the female communities affiliated with German reformed monasticism, we move forward to thirteenth-century Italy, where a very different kind of female community struggled to identify with the memory of its charismatic founder...

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4. The Franciscan Bough

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pp. 127-158

Trees abound in Franciscan devotional expressions of the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. They appear as the singular subject of frescoes in monumental and private settings, in the illumination of liturgical and devotional manuscripts, and in Franciscan legends...

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5. An Estranged Wilderness

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pp. 159-195

“My sweet father,” begins a letter composed by Marguerite d’Oingt (d. 1310), fourth prioress of the Carthusian monastery of Poleteins, “you should know that I heard this preached by a superior of the Franciscans, in the middle of a sermon.”1 Questioned about a writing...

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pp. 196-204

I have sought to illuminate the devotional origins and development of the medieval doctrine of the world’s re-creation. To posit that the material world was re-created by the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ was to insist on a new manner of perception. It was to regard the...


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pp. 205-226


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pp. 227-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780801470950
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801452536

Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 875894967
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Holy Matter

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Nature -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church -- History of doctrines -- Middle Ages, 600-1500.
  • Spiritual life -- Christianity -- History of doctrines -- Middle Ages, 600-1500.
  • Natural theology -- History of doctrines -- Middle Ages, 600-1500.
  • Theology, Doctrinal -- History -- Middle Ages, 600-1500.
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