• Paula M. Rieder
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


On Ash Wednesday of 1259, Nicola of Rouen, a choir nun at the monastery of Saint-Saens in Normandy, gave birth to her second child by Simon, the rector of the village church at Saint-Saens. The birth took place inside the monastery where Nicola was subsequently churched. The child was sent to Rouen to be raised by one of Nicola’s sisters. In July of that year, during a regular episcopal visit to the monastery, Bishop Odo of Rouen heard about the child and Nicola’s churching and included the information, without further comment, in his register.1 By 1259, the purification of women after childbirth was a very old custom in France dating back, at least, to the ninth century, but at the time of Nicola’s churching, the meaning and importance of this ancient custom was in flux.


Thirteenth Century Fifteenth Century Twelfth Century Sacred Space Unwed Mother 
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© Paula M. Rieder 2006

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