Pilgrim & Preacher: The Audiences and Observant Spirituality of Friar Felix Fabri (1437/8-1502)

ISBN : 9780198717072

Kathryne Beebe
288 Pages
145 x 224 mm
Pub date
Aug 2014
Oxford Historical Monographs
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Pilgrim and Preacher seeks to understand the numerous pilgrimage writings of the Dominican Felix Fabri (1437/8-1502), not only as rich descriptions of the Holy Land, Egypt, and Palestine, but also as sources for the religious attitudes and social assumptions that went into their creation. Fabri, an Observant reformer and talented preacher, as well as a two-time Holy Land pilgrim, adapted his pilgrimage experiences for four different audiences. He produced the rhymed Swabian-German Pilgerbuchlein for those who sponsored his first voyage; the encyclopaedic Latin Evagatorium for his Dominican brethren; the vernacular Pilgerbuch for the noble patrons of his second voyage and their households; and finally, the vernacular Sionpilger-an 'imagined' or 'virtual' pilgrimage - for the nuns in his care, who were unable to make the real journey themselves. This study asks fundamental questions about the readership for such works, and then builds upon an analysis of Fabri's audiences to reassess the nature of piety, and the place both pilgrimage literature and Observant reform had in it, in late-medieval Germany. Pilgrim and Preacher is a study of reception, yet one that departs from traditional approaches to pilgrimage literature, which see pilgrimage writing merely as a body of texts to be classified according to genre or mined for colourful details about the Jerusalem journey. This work combines the insights of both literary theory and historical studies with an original, empirical contribution based on an analysis of the manuscripts and printed history of Fabri's writings, setting them in their historical and cultural contexts. Such an analysis allows us to understand better the working of the religious imagination amongst urban elites and women religious in the late middle ages. By charting the influences of the Observance Movement within the Dominican, Fabri's writings were intended for both his young novices (to make them more effective preachers) and for the religious women who could only go to Jerusalem via the imagination, Pilgrim and Preacher also makes an important contribution to the history of the Dominican Observance movement and the wider currents that flowed between it and the civic and religious feelings of the age.


1. Setting Off
2. Felix Fabri, Dominican Pilgrim and Writer
3. Text as Tool: The Audiences for Felix Fabri's Pilgrimage Writings
4. 'Thus end the lies': Armchair Pilgrims and Actual Audiences
5. Reading Virtual Pilgrimage in Context
Conclusion: Home and Back Again

About the author: 

Kathryne Beebe, originally from just south of Kansas City, is now based in the United States after almost ten years in the UK. Before joining the Department of History at the University of Texas at Arlington in August 2013, she taught at Southeast Missouri State for three years. Prior to that, Dr Beebe was the VH Galbraith Teaching & Research Fellow at St. Hilda's College and a Junior Research Fellow in History at Balliol College, Oxford. She earned her MSt. in Historical Research and her D.Phil. in Medieval (Modern) History whilst a student at Pembroke College, Oxford. Her research interests include medieval pilgrimage, the history of the book, women's history and the cultural history of spirituality. At present, Kathryne is engaged upon a project entitled Holy Places and Holy Writ-Travel as Text in the Late Middle Ages, where she is investigating the connection between spiritual pilgrimage (for travellers who journeyed only in the imagination) and Observant reform in medieval Europe.

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