Hearing medieval voices

Illumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary

Hearing voices without external stimuli: in the popular imagination, auditory hallucination is most often understood as a symptom of severe mental disorders.

Embracing Death, Celebrating Life: Reflections on the Concept of Martyrdom in the Order of the Knights Templar


This article aims at shedding light on this neglected aspect of Templar spirituality and discusses the implications of this concept’s manifestation throughout the order’s history.

Women and Catharism

Cathar memorial - photo by Delphine Ménard/ Flickr

Participation of women in sustaining and spreading the dualist heresy known as Catharism in Languedoc in the first half of the thirteenth century was greater than the passive role generally assigned to them in medieval society

How to Deal with the Restless Dead? Discernment of Spirits and the Response to Ghosts in Fifteenth-Century Europe

Ghost - image by Gallowglass / Wikimedia Commons

Discernment of spirits was embedded in late medieval theologies and ministries of death and, as such, was central to the assessment of other apparitions – like those of ghosts.

Annihilation and Authorship: Three Women Mystics of the 1290s

18th-century print of Angela of Foligno

Mechthild of Hackeborn, Angela of Foligno, and Marguerite Porete were exact contemporaries who differed in language, social status, and modes of religious life; their books diverge no less in genre, modes of production, and posthumous destinies.

Negotiating the Sacred: Byzantium, Venice and the True Cross in Late Medieval Venice

old map constantinople

Dr. Klein’s lecture about art, faith and politics in late medieval Venice.

Baptism in Anglo-Saxon England

Drawing with coloured wash of the baptism of Balan in a tub by Pope Milon with 4 archbishops present, illustrating section 351 of the Chanson d'Aspremont.  - from British Library MS  Lansdowne 782   f. 18v

This thesis examines the lexical field of baptism in Old English. The lexical development of the field and the semantic development of the individual lexemes were evaluated: the verbs fulwian, cristnian, depan, dyppan, and the vocabulary for baptismal water in Old English. At every stage of the project, the linguistic data was correlated to theological, liturgical and cultural backgrounds.

The sin of crime: The Mutual Influence of the Early Irish and Anglo-Saxon Penitentials and Secular Laws

Medieval Penitential - British Library MS Additional 30853   f. 309

One of the most fascinating questions concerning Medieval Irish and Anglo-Saxon society is not one about what was done when all went well, but rather, what was sought to be done when matters were not as they ought to be.

VIDEO: Female Sufis in the Medieval Period

Hafiz Poems - Medieval Islamic Manuscript (Public Domain)

Dr. Lloyd Ridgeon talks about the role of Sufi women in the medieval period. Ridgeone examines positive and negative portrayals of Sufi women in a wide range of texts.

Grief and Spiritual Crisis in the Middle Ages

Death of Ferdinand of Castile - British Library Royal 20 C VII f.11

Existential crises and questions of faith in times of hardship are not modern phenomena. Medieval people routinely questioned their faith, most poignantly when it came to death.

The Cathedral and the City

Chartres Cathedral - photo by Atlant / wikicommons

Another fantastic talk. Professor Caroline Bruzelius talks to us about medieval art, architecture, and the role of the cathedral in Medieval society.

Crusaders, Pilgrims, and Relics – Bearers of the Cross: Material Religion in the Crusading World 1095-1300

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. (Wikipedia)

The Museum of the Order of St. John is hosting a series of events and talks to promote their project: Bearers of the Cross: Material Religion in the Crusading World 1095-1300.

The Medieval Story of Jesus’ Prison Cell

Prison of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - photo by Patrick McKay / Flickr

Today it is one of the quieter corners of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but hundreds of years ago the ‘Prison of Christ’ was one of the must-see spots for medieval Christian pilgrims.

The Global Side of Medieval at the Getty Centre: Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscripts

Ethiopian Manuscript. Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA. 'Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscript' (Photo courtesy of Dani Trynoski)

Los Angeles correspondent, Danielle Trynoski takes through the, ‘Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscripts’ exhibut at the Getty Museum.

Friendship, Betrayal, War: “Soldier of God” Movie Review

Soldier of God - Rene, a French Templar Knight who survives the Battle of Hattin. Played by Tim Abell.

A Templar and a Muslim; their strange friendship is the premise of this week’s movie based in the 12th century immediately after the disastrous Battle of Hattin.

The Church as a Woman: The Gendered Rhetoric of the Feminine Divine

Illumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary

This study investigates just a small aspect of the subject, namely Hildegard’s use of gendered rhetoric in her portrayal of the personified church.

Epiphany: Three Kings Day

The Three Magi, Byzantine mosaic c.565, Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy (restored 18th century). As here Byzantine art usually depicts the Magi in Persian clothing which includes breeches, capes, and Phrygian caps. Wikipedia

A look at the history behind Epiphany and Twelfth Night.

How did people sleep in the Middle Ages?

A sleeping man in a medieval manuscript - from British Library Royal 19 D III   f. 458

A recent book on the history of sleeping shows that during the Middle Ages people typically slept in two periods during the night.

Care of relics in early medieval Rome

Sancta Sanctorum in Rome - Photo by Diana / Wikipedia

Hidden in a dark corner of St. Peter’s shrine, Pope Sergius I (687–701) found a silver box so blackened with age that he was at first unsure whether it was indeed made of silver.

The Story of Exodus: The Anglo-Saxon Version

Crossing of the Red Sea depicted in the 15th century  Nuremberg Chronicle

The clever authors of these Anglo-Saxon biblical poems knew their audiences, engaging readers and listeners by retelling Old Testament stories in an epic way that was both familiar and beloved.

Advent in the Middle Ages

My Star Wars Advent Calendar - Sadly, this delicious tradition isn't medieval.

Advent in the Middle Ages

Walk this Way: Two Journeys to Jerusalem in the Fifteenth Century

Depiction of Jerusalem in the 15th century, by Hartmann Schedel

This paper appraises place pilgrimage to Jerusalem in two late-medieval English texts: The Itineraries of William Wey and The Book of Margery Kempe.

Ring Out the Old: Medieval Bells in England

Rabbit tolling church bells from the medieval devotional Book of Hours

Of the bells that survive, the oldest may be in St. Chad’s Church in Claughton in Lancashire.

Sacrificial Magic and the Twofold Division of the Irish Ritual Year

Samhain Candle - photo by Alison Leigh Lilly / Flickr

The historical development of St. Martin’s Day in Ireland, and its relationship with the more ancient festival of Samhain is examined, revealing circumstances that saw much of the ritual nature of Samhain being adopted within a Christian context in the medieval period.

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