Consorting with Saints: Prayer for the Dead in Early Medieval France

By Megan McLaughlin | Go to book overview

3 THE LAITY AND THE LITURGICAL COMMUNITY

It is easy to see why the early medieval clergy focused so sharply on the ecclesiological symbolism of rituals for the dead. They structured and then interpreted those rituals in terms of spiritual relationships which reflected very clearly the dominant social relationship in their lives--their membership in the liturgical community. It is less clear whether the early medieval laity shared this awareness of the ecclesiological symbolism in prayer for the dead. Unlike the earliest Christian layfolk, they did not participate actively in the activities of the liturgical community. One might reasonably assume, then, that the themes of spiritual relationship those activities presented would have been less obvious to them than they were to the clergy.

Nevertheless, there are indications that the laity shared the clergy's preference for associative forms of prayer for the dead, for services which emphasized the dead person's relationship with the community that prayed and hence with the community of the elect. Of course very little direct information about the lay understanding of the liturgy is available, since few members of the laity could read and write. However, we do have information from narrative and diplomatic sources about the kinds of lay behavior that resulted in commemoration after death in the period from the mid-eighth century to the end of the eleventh century. If we assume that actions which resulted in prayer were informed--at least to some extent--by the actors' ideas about prayer, we can use information about what the laity did as a guide to what they thought about the liturgy.

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Consorting with Saints: Prayer for the Dead in Early Medieval France
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Burial of the Dead 24
  • 2 - Commemoration 55
  • 3 - The Laity and the Liturgical Community 102
  • 4 - Familiaritas 133
  • 5 - The Ideology of Prayer for the Dead 178
  • Epilogue 250
  • Appendix A - Liturgical Privileges in Royal Acts, 768-1108 261
  • Appendix B - Grants of Liturgical Privileges by Five Religious Communities, 800-1099 263
  • Works Cited 269
  • Index 299
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