IMC 2007: Sessions

Session 116: Monastic Solitude and Silence

Monday 9 July 2007, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Markus Schürer, Abteilung Mittelalterliche Geschichte, Institut für Geschichte, Technische Universität, Dresden
Paper 116-aEscaping the City: Abelard's Philosophical Retreat into Solitude
(Language: English)
Carl Taylor, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Index terms: Monasticism, Philosophy, Theology
Paper 116-bDeserts within Cities: Spiritual Eremiticism, Missals, and the Urban Holy Poverty of the 13th-Century Franciscans
(Language: English)
Anna Welch, Melbourne College of Divinity
Index terms: Liturgy, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Performance Arts - General, Religious Life
Paper 116-c'The Virtue of Stillness': Abelard and Monastic Silence
(Language: English)
Julie Ann Smith, Department of History, University of Sydney
Index terms: Gender Studies, Monasticism

Paper a: In my paper I will investigate Peter Abelard’s reference to solitude in the Historia Calamitatum. When Abelard founded the Paraclete he describes his eremitical project through Jerome’s Adversus Jovinium as a philosophical ideal of seeking solitude. My paper will consider this philosophical ideal of fleeing the city for solitude as a form of monastic rhetoric. In suggesting that Abelard’s reference to solitude in the Historia should be viewed in the context of monastic rhetoric I will also compare the Historia‘s reference to solitude with Hugh of St Victor’s allusion to a philosophical sense of seeking solitude in the Didascalicon.
Paper b: This paper will examine the way in which the tensions between the distinctly urban nature of the Franciscan Order and their vow of holy poverty gave rise to a particular need for ‘spiritual eremitism’ – a liminal space outside the urban reality where spiritual dialogue with God could take place. Missals, as liturgical necessities which also constituted property, are emblematic of the early Order’s developing struggle to fuse monastic and mendicant lifestyles in an urban context. It will be argued that missals as performance texts functioned to create liminal spiritual space through the use of ritual actions, words, music and art, taking as an example the Codex Sancti Paschalis, a largely unstudied 13th-century Franciscan missal from Perugia, now owned by the Australian Province of the Order of Friars Minor and the subject of my interdisciplinary postgraduate thesis.
Paper c: For Abelard, three virtues constituted the sum of monastic life: continence, apostolic poverty, and silence. In his prefatory comments on these virtues in his Rule for Nuns he devotes considerably more space to the last, both as Christian virtue and as monastic ideal. His treatise was written in response to Heloise’s request for a ‘rule which shall be suitable for women’ and this paper examines his evaluation of silence, which might ‘make a man perfect’.