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The Consecration of Nuns

  • Anne Bagnall Yardley
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Religious initiation rituals often serve to demarcate those who cross the threshold from outsider to insider, to express the deepest values of the community, and to offer a spiritual map to those who enter the terrain. By the late Middle Ages, young women entering the nunnery pass through several different ritual experiences in the process of becoming part of a religious community. For example, they are, as infants, baptized as Christians, they are welcomed as novices into a specific community, and they profess their vows. Chief among the rituals, however, is the Ordo Consecratio Virginum or the Order for the Consecration of Virgins. In late medieval England, this elaborate and unique ceremony, performed by the bishop, simultaneously forms the identity of new nuns and reminds older nuns of their vows. The prayers and chants express the imagery of the nun as “bride of Christ” as the bishop and convent enact a complex marriage ceremony.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Barbara Newman, From Virile Woman to Woman Christ: Studies in Medieval Religion and Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), pp. 44–45.Google Scholar
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    Nancy Bradley Warren, Spiritual Economies: Female Monasticism in Later Medieval England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), pp. 4–6. Warren cites several other authors who work in this area as well.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Anne Bagnall Yardley 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Bagnall Yardley

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