Book Series Medieval Church Studies, vol. 31

Devotional Culture in Late Medieval England and Europe

Diverse Imaginations of Christ’s Life

Stephen Kelly, Ryan Perry (eds)

  • Pages: xviii + 663 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:40 b/w, 9 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2015

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54935-4
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55002-2
  • E-book
  • Available

An important collection of essays focused on how the climactic episode of Christian scripture and apocrypha, the life of Christ, was repeatedly adapted for a variety of audiences and devotional uses in the Middle Ages.


"Die Beiträge des vorliegenden Bandes sind quellennah und ziehen häufig auch wenig bekannte Handschriften und bildliche Darstellungen heran. Durch das Register, das auch einzelne Handschriften verzeichnet, lässt sich die monumentale Aufsatzsammlung für die künftige Forschung gut nutzen. Insbesondere geht es in den Beiträgen anhand verschiedener Beispiele darum, wie Andachtspraktiken monastischer und klerikaler Kreise in diejenigen von Laien Eingang fanden. Dieser Prozess liesse sich sicher auch an vielen mitteleuropäischen Beispielen nachweisen. Durch neue Perspektiven auf die kulturellen Zeugnisse und ihre Funktionen trägt der Band dazu bei, die Frömmigkeit dieser Zeit besser zu begreifen und sie nicht vornehmlich als eine Phase des Übergangs wahrzunehmen." (Daria Dittmeyer, in: Sehepunkte 16 (2016), Nr. 2 [15.02.2016], URL:

"Comme on le voit, le volume édité par S. Kelly et R. Perry est foisonnant. On pourra certes regretter une certaine hétérogénéité des sujets traités ainsi que des méthodes ou problématiques adoptés, mais aussi apprécier cette "collection" (...), tant pour la richesse de sa matière que pour le caractère souvent suggestif des analyses proposées." (Marielle Lamy, in: Apocrypha 26, 2015, p. 392-396)

“This volume is an important contribution to the conversation about late-medieval devotional culture, and it promises to galvanize new conversations as well.” (Heather Blurton, in Speculum, 92/1, 2017, p. 271)

“The work is beautifully presented, with substantial footnotes that give it an encyclopaedic quality. It is both a good read and a resource to plunder.” (Anne M. Scott, in Parergon, 37/2, 2020, p. 266-67)


Christ’s life, as related through the Gospel narratives and early Apocrypha, was subject to a riot of literary-devotional adaptation in the medieval period. This collection provides a series of groundbreaking studies centring on the devotional and cultural significance of Christianity’s pivotal story during the Middle Ages.

The collection represents an important milestone in terms of mapping the meditative modes of piety that characterize a number of Christological traditions, including the Meditationes vitae Christi and the numerous versions it spawned in both Latin and the vernacular. A number of chapters in the volume track how and why meditative piety grew in popularity to become a mode of spiritual activity advised not only to recluses and cenobites as in the writings of Aelred of Rievaulx, but also reached out to diverse lay audiences through the pastoral regimens prescribed by devotional authors such as the Carthusian prior Nicholas Love in England and the Parisian theologian and chancellor of the University of Paris, Jean Gerson.

Through exploring these texts from a variety of perspectives — theoretical, codicological, theological — and through tracing their complex lines of dissemination in ideological and material terms, this collection promises to be invaluable to students and scholars of medieval religious and literary culture.



From the Apostle Peter to Bonaventure the Cardinal: Rethinking the Date and Authorship of the Meditationes Vitae Christi — DAVID FALVAY and PETER TOTH

Adolescence and Interiority in Aelred’s Lives of Christ — DENISE DEPRES

The Life of Christ in Meditative Texts in Late Medieval France — MAUREEN BOULTON

Out of Egypt, Into England: Tales of the Good Thief for Medieval English Audiences — MARY DZON

The Disappearing Book in The Revelation of the Hundred Pater Nosters — MARLENE VILLALOBOS HENNESSEY

The Passion cycle in English wall paintings and manuscript art: readers and spectators in Midlands communities in the later medieval period — DAVID GRIFFITH and RACHEL CANTY

‘To move the mind’: scenes from Christ’s life on Faversham’s painted pillar — SHEILA SWEETINBURGH

‘Þynke ai of criste’: Compassionate Thought in The Prickynge of Love — SARAH MACMILLAN

Health and Heaven: Middle English Devotion to Christ in its Therapeutic Contexts — DANIEL MCCANN

Living in the Time of Christ: Margery Kempe’s ‘Devoute Ymaginacion’ — ELIZABETH SCARBOROUGH

‘Þenke we sadli on his deeþ’: The Hours of the Cross as a Short Passion Meditation — ELEANOR MCCULLOUGH

Patroness of Orthodoxy: Elizabeth Berkeley, John Walton, and The Middle English Storie of Asneth, a West Midlands Devotional Text — HEATHER A. REID

Translating Access and Authority at Syon Abbey — PAUL J. PATTERSON

Through the Looking Glass: Reflections of Christ’s ‘trewe louers’ in Nicholas Love’s The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ — KATIE ANN-MARIE BUGYIS

The Pepysian Version of the Middle English Meditationes de Passione Christi — MAYUMI TAGUCHI

Exemplary Speech in The Life of the Virgin Mary and the Christ: Trinity College Dublin MS 423 — BARBARA ZIMBALIST

Medieval English Religious Plays as Early Fifteenth-Century Vernacular Theology: the Case Against — PAMELA M. KING

Belief and Knowledge in Love’s Mirror — VALERIE ALLEN

The Fifteenth Century as the Golden Age of Women’s Theology in English: Reflections on the Earliest Reception of Julian of Norwich — KATHRYN KERBY-FULTON

‘Hospitable Reading’ in a Fifteenth-Century Passion and Eucharistic Meditation — SARAH JAMES

A Geographical Postscript — MICHAEL G. SARGENT

Index of Manuscripts

Index of Names