• Henrietta Leyser
Part of the New Studies in Medieval History book series


The poor men of Christ’: this, first and foremost, was how the hermits saw themselves. Their love of poverty might be expressed as a wish to imitate Christ’s own poverty; Stephen of Obazine, for example, at the start of his pilgrimage, abandoned all earthly concerns ‘so that poor and naked himself he might follow the poor Christ’.1 It might also be seen as a response to Christ’s teaching on poverty. Christ’s advice to the rich man (Matthew xix:21), his warnings on the difficulty for the wealthy in entering the kingdom of heaven, these were the texts frequently quoted to explain and justify the hermits’ conversions. Even if the hermits, as laymen, had not actually read the passages, this did not make them any the less relevant. Here is the foundation charter granted by Henry of Verdun, describing the beginnings of Flône:

He who does not renounce all that he possesses cannot come to me, said the Lord. Having understood rather than read this truth, three faithful laymen, … having given up all worldly desires, chose to live in a solitary house in that place which is called Flône.2


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© Henrietta Leyser 1984

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  • Henrietta Leyser

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