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

By Megan McLaughlin | Go to book overview

5 THE IDEOLOGY OF PRAYER FOR THE DEAD

Until quite recently historians interested in the meaning of prayer for the dead in the middle ages were content to trace the development of theological teachings on the subject.1. As I noted earlier, that situation has changed somewhat in the last few decades. Now a growing number of scholars search for the meanings of religious rituals in saints' lives, poetry, inscriptions, even charters, as well as in theological texts per se.2. Nevertheless, theology continues to exert a powerful influence, and most historians studying prayer for the dead still select and read their texts within a framework of assumptions derived from the doctrinal tradition, even when they do not confine themselves to studying that tradition.3.

____________________
1.
Michel, "Purgatoire"; C. V. Héris, "Théologie des suffrages pour les morts," La Maison-Dieu 44 (1955), 58-67; Yves Congar, "Le Purgatoire," in Le Mystère de la mort et sa célèbration ( Paris, 1956), pp. 279-336; Pierre Jay, "Le Purgatoire dans la prédication de saint Césaire d'Arles," Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale 24 (1957), 5-14; idem, "Saint Cyprien et la doctrine du Purgatoire," Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale 27 (1960), 133-36; Joseph Ntedika, L'Évolution de la doctrine du Purgatoire chez saint Augustin ( Paris, 1966); Pierre Jay, "Saint Augustin et la doctrine du Purgatoire," Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale 36 (1969), 17-30.
2.
This change is most apparent in studies of early Christian rituals for the dead, such as Ntedika, L'Évocation de l'au-delà, and Duval, Auprès des saints. But studies of the early medieval period have also begun to change. See, for example, Neiske, "Vision und Totengedenken;" Oexle, "Memoria und Memorialüberlieferung;" Geary, "Échanges et relations entre les vivants et les morts dans la société du haut moyen âge."
3.
See, for example, Angenendt, "Theologie und Liturgie," in Schmid and Wollasch, Memoria; Chélini, L'Aube du moyen âge, pp. 450-94. See also the controversy aroused by the publication of Le Goff La Naissance du Purgatoire discussed in the Introduction above.

-178-

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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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