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Title: Devotion to St John the Baptist in England in the Middle Ages
Author: McDonagh, Melanie
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2003
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This study examines the cult of St John the Baptist in England during the period between the Norman Conquest and the Henrician Reformation. It seeks to identify the ways in which medieval men and women viewed the Baptist and to place this in the context of veneration for the universal, scriptural saints in the Middle Ages. The chief source is the sermons of the period in Latin and English, supplemented by vernacular legendaries, liturgy, primers and prayer books, representations of the Baptist in art, saints' lives, plays, relics, folklore and guild records. The discussion is grounded in the scriptural and patristic treatment of the Baptist and examines the ways in which the exegetical and homiletic themes established by the fathers are developed over time. In the first part of the discussion, the various ways in which the Baptist was regarded are considered thematically; in the second and much shorter part, some devotees of the saint are discussed: Godric of Finchale, the Lollards, King Richard II and the Company of Merchant Taylors. The difficulties of establishing an idea of the popularity of the saint are considered, and the disparate evidence available, including guild and church dedications, prayers to the Baptist and representations in art, is examined. The study concludes with an account of the Midsummer feast of the Nativity of the Baptist and the ways in which a popular festival associated with pagan custom was combined with the celebration of an important Christian feast.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral