• Constant J. Mews
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


These words of the Psalmist provide a particularly appropriate way to begin thinking about the Speculum virginum [Mirror of Virgins]. Tradi-tionally interpreted as an injunction to the Church to prepare itself as a Bride to meet the Son of God, they had a particular resonance for women who sought to dedicate themselves to the religious life. The perfect soul was understood as a supremely beautiful woman who leaves her father’s house for her spiritual beloved. To a modern mind, this might seem a very alien way of imagining spiritual life. The injunction implies that God is male and that the perfect woman is fully obedient to her lover.Yet these words can also be heard as a “wake-up call,” urging rejection of worldly security and attentiveness to the voice of the Beloved. This is the way they were understood within a medieval religious environment.


Religious Life Twelfth Century Spiritual Life Religious Woman Medieval Literature 
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  1. 5.
    Cindy L. Carlson and Angela Lane Weisl, “Introduction,” in Constructions of Widowhood and Virginity in the Middle Ages, ed. Carlson and Weisl, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), p. 5.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
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© Constant J. Mews 2001

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