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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 606: New Perspectives on Female Mysticism, II: Case Studies

Tuesday 5 July 2016, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Anne-Laure Méril-Bellini delle Stelle, Independent Scholar, Pissos
Paper 606-aFood for the Faithful: Christ and Food in the Visions of Agnes Blannbekin
(Language: English)
Amanda Langley, School of History, Queen Mary University of London
Index terms: Daily Life, Hagiography, Lay Piety
Paper 606-bMaria of Oignies: Her Fasting and Its Theological Meaning in Comparative Examination
(Language: English)
Monika Gerundt, Mittelalterliche Geschichte, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gießen
Index terms: Hagiography, Religious Life, Theology

Paper -a:
In her visions, Agnes Blannbekin, a Viennese beguine of the late 13th century, describes Christ as playing many, multifaceted roles. Christ's connection with food in her work is no exception. Christ feeds humanity spiritually, prepares food in his kitchen, sits with the faithful at banquet in the Fatherland, becomes the Eucharist, and chastises those that fail to dine in the appropriate manner on Earth. Through examining Agnes's discussion of Christ's interaction with food, I will place Agnes's use of food amongst that of her contemporaries in order to highlight Agnes's departure from the norm in the construction of her visions.

Paper -b:
Jacques de Vitry describes in his Vita Mariae Oigniacensis Maria's habits regarding her diet, her fasting, and her intake of the Eucharist. What she eats and on which days she is fasting has a theological meaning and is closely connected with her piety. This description in her Vita and also that of the fasting of Elisabeth of Thüringen shed light on female piety and mysticism in the 13th century. This paper compares their habits with the theology and personal fasting of Bernhard of Clairvaux, but also with the regulations of Benedictine consuetudines and the overall view regarding fasting during the Middle Ages.

Paper -c:
Groundbreaking studies have highlighted the symbolic significance of food and drink as an underlying theme in women's spirituality. Yet the phenomenon of ebrietas sancta as noted by the annotator in the margin of the manuscript London, British Library Add MS 61823, f. 48r of the Book of Margery Kempe has been little explored in scholarship. This paper discusses the multi-layered meaning of the concrete and sometimes baffling images of 'Minnetrunkenheit' by comparing the Book of Margery Kempe with the enigmatic remarks about wine and drunkenness in the under-researched Offenbarungen of the 15th century Dominican lay sister Katharina Tucher. The interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach of analysing the theme of spiritual inebriation in female mysticism offers a new perspective on a continental tradition of 'Frauenmystik' from which both texts emerge.