Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

O Praesul Illustris: Images of the Bishop Patron in Poems of Late Medieval Latin Offices
by Bilow, Catherine Anne, Ph.D., The University of Toledo, 2012, 210; 10630841
Abstract (Summary)

During the Middle Ages the Church worked to make official liturgical services unified and universal. Close textual and historical analysis of Latin liturgical documents offers insight into the writers' method and the sentiments expressed in prayer. The repertory for this study is a set of poems drawn from selected hours of the Divine Office: first vespers, matins, lauds, second vespers. All of the Offices date from the late Middle Ages (A.D. 1100-1500) and were written to honor saints who served as bishops. Although the texts are late medieval, there is a great range in the bishops' lifetime. A discussion of liturgy and the cycle of celebrations is followed by a consideration of the special Divine Office category: services dedicated to bishop saints. Thirty-five Latin Offices honoring thirteen bishops are considered. This study restricts itself to the lyrics, not the musical notation. The identification of rhyme scheme, metrical pattern, and overall structure is followed by delineation of peculiar features of each poem. They are examined for such elements as figures of speech, scriptural allusion, place names, and hagiographical convention. Especially notable are references to the bishop's interaction with secular authorities. Special attention is given to two saints especially popular during the period under consideration: Bishop Nicholaus of Bari (fourth century) and Bishop Guillelmus of Bourges (early thirteenth century). The former represents early saints whose cult spread throughout Europe during the late Middle Ages and who were revered, not through the official canonization process, but rather by force of popular devotion. The aim of this study is threefold. It establishes the late medieval identity of the bishop saint. It also traces, in Nicolaus of Bari and Guillelmus of Bourges, the outline of the bishop saint as a patron who also stood up to secular authority when the Church's position was challenged. Third, the examination of texts of Nicolaus as an early saint and of Guillelmus as a contemporary saint contrasts the sources of their devotion. These findings provide a springboard for broader examination to include additional bishop saints' Offices. They also invite further inspection of the texts of these two bishops.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bresnahan, Carol
Commitee: Bresnahan, Carol, Britton, Diane, Curtis, Robert, Jakobson, Michael
School: The University of Toledo
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Medieval literature, Religious history, History
Keywords: Canonization, Divine Office, Hagiography, Liturgy, Medieval Latin
Publication Number: 10630841
ISBN: 9780355011753
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