Angels & Angelology in the Middle Ages

Angels & Angelology in the Middle Ages

Angels & Angelology in the Middle Ages

Angels & Angelology in the Middle Ages


Recently angels have made a remarkable comeback in the popular imagination; their real heyday, however, was the Middle Ages. From the great shrines dedicated to Michael the Archangel at Mont-St-Michel and Monte Garano to the elaborate metaphysical speculations of the great thirteenth-century scholastics, angels dominated the physical, temporal, and intellectual landscape of the medieval West. This book offers a full-scale study of angels and angelology in the Middle Ages. Seeking to discover how and why angels became so important in medieval society, David Keck considers a wide range of fascinating questions such as: Why do angels appear on baptismal fonts? How and why did angels become normative for certain members of the church? How did they become a required course of study? Did popular beliefs about angels diverge from the angelologies of the theologians? Why did some heretics claim to derive their authority from heavenly spirits? Keck spreads his net wide in the attempt to catch traces of angels and angelic beliefs in as many portions of the medieval world as possible. Metaphysics and mystery plays, prayers and pilgrimages, Cathars and cathedrals-all these and many more disparate sources taken together reveal a society deeply engaged with angels on all its levels and in some unlikely ways.


The completion of a project is a time for giving thanks, and there are several people whose support and assistance have been essential for this book.

Professors Steven Ozment and Thomas N. Bisson, the advisors under whom my original dissertation on medieval angelology was written, were model mentors who both challenged and encouraged the project. A Woodrow Wilson Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities provided me with the financial support needed for doctoral work. As a graduate student, I was fortunate to enjoy many late-night collegial conversations about medieval history with Robert E. Berkhofer, III. Pamela Sheingorn and Adelaide Bennett Hagens helped me with many aspects of medieval iconography. Christopher B. Brown provided me with several important angelological references from the Reformation, and was of invaluable assistance in the final preparation of this manuscript. The contributions of Cynthia Read and Lisa Stallings of Oxford University Press have been crucial throughout the stages of book production.

Most importantly, my family has supported me constantly, and this book is dedicated to them. To my father, Leander, who fostered my intellectual curiosity. To my mother, Janice, who read my first homework assignments but who can no longer read or write. To my brother, Stephen, who has always been a guardian angel to me. To my wife, Karin Lindt Gollin, whose love surpasses the ardor of the seraphim, and to our new daughter, Olivia Susanna, who is now one year and a day old.

Let me give thanks.

Manila, The Philippines Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, 1997 . . .

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