“Historical” Dates in Medieval Liturgical Calendars

“Historical” Dates in Medieval Liturgical Calendars

By J. Frank Henderson

Published Online (2004)

Introduction:  First and foremost, medieval liturgical calendars record occasions of liturgical celebration, for example, Easter, the “birthday” of a saint into heaven, the birth of Jesus or of John Baptist. The actual dates of the events being celebrated is secondary or even entirely unknown; precise chronology usually is not a major concern. In addition, however, liturgical calendars might include other types of calendrical information; individual calendars vary widely in this regard.

Here I consider two types of “non-liturgical” calendar entries.Thus some medieval liturgical calendars included items that are primarily “historical” in character and that are not intended for liturgical commemoration or celebration. The use of quotation marks here is intended to indicate that these dates were understood in a historical sense; whether their information is accurate by modern historical standards is another question, not considered here. Such “historical” dates are found in some, though not all, medieval liturgical calendars.

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