During the Middle Ages the Church worked to make official liturgical services unified and universal. This paper briefly surveys the structure and significance of the canonical hours of the Officium Divinum. This helps one know who actually prayed the Divine Office, how the individual hours were established and the cycle of seasons within which saints were singled out for special commemoration on their respective feast days. This paper focuses on a set of Latin liturgical poems honoring thirteen bishop saints from late medieval Offices (1100-1500). While the texts under consideration are not exhaustive, they represent liturgical prayer of the time and devotion among the faithful for their episcopal leaders. In keeping with this year’s IMC theme, special attention is given to the poems’ mention of the delights of heaven as the supreme reward of life well lived here on earth.
A 15th-century manuscript at the Landeshauptarchiv in Koblenz, Germany, contains a version of St Katherine of Alexandria’s Passion: it is written in Latin and Middle High German. I begin by considering the author’s techniques for switching from Latin to German and back. Parallels with BHL 1663 demonstrate that the base text was in Latin and that the German passages are the original work of the author. Does he privilege certain aspects of Katherine’s story over others in any particular language? Can an analysis of the German dialect yield the geographical context in which the author operated? Does this geographical context point to a particular regional interest in Katherine, who, by the 15th century, had reached near- universal status? Direct addresses to the audience are absent, so the text itself serves as a clue: an audience capable of understanding both Latin and German was likely based in a monastic or some other intellectual setting. What interest did a female intellectual saint have for a (presumably) male audience? Do the associated texts in the manuscript help to understand its genesis?
This paper considers the treatment of illegitimacy in medieval hagiography, looking at legends of bishop saints associated with north Britain. According to his vitae, St Kentigern, bishop of Glasgow, was illegitimately-born, while those of some other notable bishop saints, including St Ninian (Whithorn) and St Cuthbert (Lindisfarne), contain stories of them being accused of fathering illegitimate offspring. The depiction of women who are pregnant out of wedlock in these texts illustrate a range of ideas concerning the relationship between illegitimacy and sanctity, and between sexual pleasure and its consequences.