One of the most extant saints in England’s ecclesiastical history, archbishop Dunstan of Canterbury, has been portrayed in medieval texts such as the several ‘Vita Sancti Dunstani’ (by monk Eadmer, Osbern, and William of Malmesbury), but he is also depicted in Marian miracles since the 11th century as a fervent worshipper of the Virgin Mary, and a highly skilled musician. Different versions of the same Marian miracle show how his vision of the afterworld is, in fact, a pleasurable musical experience. Some of the Latin versions are English (William of Malmesbury’s prose version, and the versified one by Nigel of Canterbury, 12th-13th centuries). However, at least two versions are Hispanic: cantiga 288 of Alfonso X’s ‘Cantigas de Santa Maria’, and the contemporary Latin prose version by Gil de Zamora (13th century). The study of these miracle stories provides relevant information on a recurrent issue in Marian literature: the heavenly foundation and performance of a hymn. Several processes meet here: both ‘marianization’ of some miracles of older origin, and their versification into Latin or Romance verse.
In this paper I will examine the pleasures to be found in the monastic choir and church. This includes the liturgy, the books used in the liturgy and the images found in the choir and in the church itself. There are both earthly and spiritual pleasures to be found in the choir and church. Are these pleasures licit under the monastic rule or are they illicit? Monastic rules give the impression that pleasure in any form, if not a sin, is an infraction of the rules. However, the monastic churches themselves were constructed to give pleasure to the eye God as well as the eye of man. This suggests that the members of a community could take pleasure in the design and decoration of their church. So there appears to be an institutional endorsement of pleasure at one level and I will argue that this endorsement exists at all levels of community activity especially within the church itself.
In the account of creation in Genesis, God creates light on the first day and sees that it is good. Patristic authors such as Augustine, Basil, and Ambrose were at pains to argue that God was not surprised by his creation, but rather pleased with the completed object. Why did God take pleasure in his creation? This paper will show that Robert Grosseteste and later13th-century authors like Matthew of Aquasparta, drawing on these early fathers, thought that God was pleased particularly with the beauty of light, its harmony, and symmetry, which made it a fitting subject for creation on the first day.