Medieval -- En Remission Des Peches. Recherches Sur Les Systemes Penitentiels Dans l'Eglise Latine by Cyrille Vogel and Edited by Alexandre Faivre

Article excerpt

En remission des peches. Recherches sur les systemes penitentiels dans l'Eglise latine. By Cyrille Vogel. Edited by Alexandre Faivre.

Variorum Collected Studies Series: CS450.

(Brookfield, Vermont: Variorum, Ashgate Publishing Co. 1994. Pp. x, 354. $99.95.)

Cyrille Vogel (1919-1982) was an outstanding historian of the medieval liturgy who wrote extensively on the early history of penance and confession. This Variorum collection reprints twelve of Vogel's articles written between 1952 and 1982. As is the practice of the series, the articles are identified by Roman numerals (I-XII) and each article retains its original pagination. The scholarly articles are bracketed by the first and last, which address general audiences. They are valuable reflections on the relevance of the history of confession to contemporary developments in the Roman Catholic Church.

The ten scholarly articles deal with different aspects of medieval confession, with an emphasis on the sanctions and penances that were inflicted on wrongdoers (e.g., prayers, fasts, pilgrimages, and excommunication). Some of the articles are quite substantial, originally written in several parts. Of particular note is the informative account of the sanctions inflicted on clerics and the laity by early Gallo-Roman and Merovingian councils (II), the lengthy account of the provisions made for enabling penitents to alleviate the often harsh penances prescribed by the penitentials (V), and the detailed examination of early hagiographical literature for evidence of penitential practices (VI). Virtually all the articles reflect Vogel's guiding thesis that the institution of medieval penance developed in three stages: ancient penance, tariffed penance (penitentials), thirteenth-century reorganization. The editor (p. viii) claims that he has respected the classification of Vogel's studies that was found among the author's papers. That may be the case, but I believe a collection of this sort would be more helpful if it respected the chronological order in which the articles were published. …