The Care of Nuns: The Ministires of Benedictine Women in England during the Central Middle Ages

ISBN : 9780190851286

Katie Ann-Marie Bugyis
392 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Mar 2019
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In her ground-breaking new study, Katie Bugyis offers a new history of communities of Benedictine nuns in England from 900 to 1225. By applying innovative paleographical, codicological, and textual analyses to their surviving liturgical books, Bugyis recovers a treasure trove of unexamined evidence for understanding these women's lives and the liturgical and pastoral ministries they performed. She examines the duties and responsibilities of their chief monastic officers-abbesses, prioresses, cantors, and sacristans-highlighting three of the ministries vital to their practice-liturgically reading the gospel, hearing confessions, and offering intercessory prayers for others. Where previous scholarship has argued that the various reforms of the central Middle Ages effectively relegated nuns to complete dependency on the sacramental ministrations of priests, Bugyis shows that, in fact, these women continued to exercise primary control over their spiritual care. Essential to this argument is the discovery that the production of the liturgical books used in these communities was carried out by female scribes, copyists, correctors, and creators of texts, attesting to the agency and creativity that nuns exercised in the care they extended to themselves and those who sought their hospitality, counsel, instruction, healing, forgiveness, and intercession.


List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Maps
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Curates of Nuns
Chapter One: Memory-Keepers
Chapter Two: Pastors
Chapter Three: Evangelists
Chapter Four: Confessors
Chapter Five: Intercessors
Conclusion: Ministers of Christ
Appendix A: Analysis of the Alterations to Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 155
Appendix B: Edition of the Second Prayer for an Abbess in Cambridge, St. John's College, MS C.18 (68), fols.

About the author: 

Katie Ann-Marie Bugyis is a historian of medieval religious women and a Joy Foundation Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is the co-editor of two volumes, including Medieval Cantors and their Craft and Taken Seriously: Women Intellectuals, Professionals, and Community Leaders of the Medieval World.

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