From Ecclesiology to Mariology: Patristic Traces and Innovation in the Speculum Virginum

  • Kim E. Power
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter explores the influence of patristic teaching about the Virgin Bride, particularly that of Ambrose of Milan, on the ascetic teaching and theology of the Speculum virginum. It also identifies the influence of Paschasius Radbertus, a ninth-century theologian, whose treatise on the Assumption of the Virgin always circulated under the name of Jerome, as responsible for shaping a far “higher” view of the status of the Virgin, as preexisting at the beginning of time, than anything imagined by any of the Latin Fathers. The Speculum author develops Paschasius’ teaching about the Virgin Bride into an extended reflection on the moral virtues of humility and charity that all virgins of Christ should imitate. The esteem attached to a life of virginity in the Speculum cannot be understood outside the context of this understanding of the Virgin as a cosmic presence pervading human history.


Fourth Century Religious Woman Patristic Text Monastic Life Allegorical Interpretation 
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  1. 1.
    E. Ann Matter, “Introduction,” De partu virginis, CCCM 56C (1985): 15.Google Scholar

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© Constant J. Mews 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kim E. Power

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