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Mary in the Middle Ages

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Mary in the Middle Ages

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Mary in the Middle Ages
by Luigi Gambero

In his book Mary and the Fathers of the Church, Fr. Luigi Gambero presented a comprehensive survey of Marian doctrine and devotion during the first eight Christian centuries. Mary in the Middle Ages continues this journey up to the end of the fifteenth century, surveying the growth of Marian doctrine and devotion during one of the most important eras of Christian history: the Middle Ages.

Fr. Gambero presents the thoughts, words, and prayers of great theologians, bishops, monks, and mystics who witnessed to and promoted the dedication of the Christian people to the Mother of God. Each chapter concludes with readings from the works of these important authors. Many of these texts have never before been translated into English. More than thirty great figures each receive an entire chapter, including such giants as the St. Anselm, St. Bernard, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bonaventure, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Brigid of Sweden, and Raymond Lull.

“A fascinating picture of one of the foundational elements of modern Catholic theology, namely, devotion. All in all, a worthwhile and informative study of devotion to the Blessed Virgin.”
Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.

“This book is indispensable for current students of Mariology.”
Kenneth Baker, S.J.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Mary's True Role in the Economy of Salvation

Part One: Authors of the Early Middle Ages: Seventh-Eleventh Centuries
I. Ildephonsus of Toledo
Invocation of the Virgin
Divine Motherhood
The Blessed Virgin and Human Salvation
Consecration to the Blessed Virgin
Reading: A Prayer Inspired by the Mystery of the Incarnation
Reading: Consecration to the Virgin Mary
II. The Venerable Bede
Mary's Greatness
Virgin and Bride
Mary and the Church
Witness to Marian Devotion
Reading: As It Was Fulfilled in Mary, May the Word of God Also Be Fulfilled in Us
Reading: Mary's Spirit of Humility and Service
III. Ambrose Autpert
The Feast of the Purification of Mary
Mary Our Mother
The Sword of Simeon
The Feast of Mary's Assumption into Heaven
Mary, Worthy of Praise
Mary's Heavenly Intercession
Mary, Type of the Church
Reading: Mary, Image of the Church
Reading: Mary's Greatness
IV: The Carolingian Renaissance
V. Paul the Deacon

Symbol and Reality in Exalting Mary
The Humble Virgin
Mary's Love for Jesus
Mary's Assumption Into Heaven
The Virgin's Heavenly Mission
Reading: The Heavenly Glory of the Mother of God
Reading: Mary's Mercy Extended to Human Creatures
VI. Alcuin
Defender of the Christological and Marian Dogma
Alcuin's Deep Personal Devotion to the Virgin
Reading: The Virgin Mother of the Incarnate Word
Reading: An Anonymous Prayer
VII. Rabanus Maurus
Mary in Messianic Prophecy
The Name of Mary
Summary of Rabanus Maurus' Marian Teaching
Mary's Glorification and Heavenly Mission
Reading: Mary's Humility in the Mystery of the Visitation
Reading: Greatness of the Divine Motherhood
VIII. Paschasius Radbertus
Controversy over Mary's Virginity during the Birth of Christ
Mary's Assumption into Heaven
Marian Devotion
Reading: The Glory of the Blessed Virgin in Heaven
IX. Fulbert of Chartres
The Woman of the Prophesies
Predestined from the Moment of Her Conception
The Star of the Sea
Mary's Power of Intercession
Reading: The Woman Who Crushes the Serpent's Head
Reading: Mary's Glory and Intercession in Heaven
X. The Cluniac Reform and Marian Devotion
Odo of Cluny
Odilo of Cluny
Mary, Model of the Monk
The Blessed Virgin and Monastic Virtues
Reading: Mary Appears to the Monk Converted by Odo
Reading: Mary's Poverty
Reading: Mary, Perfect Mirror of Holiness
XI. Peter Damian
Outstanding Dignity and Perfection of the Mother of God
Eve's Curse and Mary's Blessing
The Mother of God and the Eucharist
Devotion to the Mother of the Lord
Reading: The Entire History of Salvation Is Reflected in Mary
Reading: Mary and John Assumed Bodily Into Heaven
Reading: Praise for the Greatness of the Mother of God

Part Two: A Golden Period for Marian Doctrine: Twelfth Century
I. Anselm of Canterbury
The Problem of the Immaculate Conception
Marian Theology and Prayer to the Virgin
Mary, Mother of All Believers
The Spiritual Inspiration of Anselm's Marian Teaching
Reading: It Was Fitting That Christ Should be Born of a Virgin
Reading: Calling Upon Mary for Salvation
II. Eadmer of Canterbury
Mary Preserved from Original Sin
Mary as Exalted Creature
Prayer to Mary
Reading: Mary's Role as Our Mother
Reading: Mary's Glory in the Ascension of Christ
III. Rupert of Deutz
The Problem of the Immaculate Conception
The Mystery of the Blessed Virgin, Bride of the Eternal Father
Mary at the Foot of the Cross
Queen of Heaven and Earth
Reading: Model of the Church
Reading: The Kiss of God
Reading: Mother of Us All
IV. Bernard of Clairvaux
Mary in the Mystery of the Incarnation
Mary Stands between Christ and Humanity
Devotion to Mary
Mary and Original Sin
Mary's Assumption into Heaven
Reading: The Name of Mary
Reading: The Sword of Simeon
V. Peter the Venerable
His Marian Piety
Faith and Devotion
Mary and the Holy Spirit
Reading: In Honor of the Mother of the Lord
VI. Arnold of Bonneval
Mary and Redemption
Mary in the Glory of God
Reading: Mary and the Mystery of the Incarnation
Reading: Mary on Calvary
VII. Amadeus of Lausanne
His Mariological Legacy
Mary between the Two Testaments
Mary and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Mary's Role in the Glory of God
Reading: Mary in the Glory of God
Reading: Our Helper and Mediatrix
VIII. Aelred of Rievaulx
Mary, the Ideal Creature
Assumed into Heaven
Mary's Mediation
Spiritual Mother
Devotion to Our Lady and Queen
Reading: Sorrow at the Loss of Jesus
Reading: Mary, the Bride of Christ
IX. Isaac of Stella
An Ecclesiological Mariology
Mary, the Virgin Earth
Mary in the Mystical Body
The Motherhood of Mary and the Motherhood of the Church
Mary in Heavenly Glory
Reading: Mary and the Church are One and the Same Mother
Reading: Mary Assumed into Heaven
X. Philip of Harveng
Mary and Her Son
Assumed into the Glory of Heaven
Mary and the Church
The Virgin's Mediation in Heaven
Philip's Mariology
Reading: Most Beautiful among All Women
Reading: The Virgin's Love for the Most Wretched
XI. Alain de Lille
His Life and Works
The Commentary on the Song of Songs
Bride of Christ
Mary and the Church
The Ultimate Destiny of the Blessed Virgin
Reading: The Four Virtues of the Incarnation

Part Three: The Age of Scholasticism: Thirteenth Century
I. Anthony of Padua
The Evangelical Doctor
His Kerygmatic Mariology
The Virgin Mother of God
Mediatrix of Salvation and Grace
A Woman Filled with Gifts and Virtues
Reading: The Virgin and the Allegory of the Bee
II. Bonaventure 
The Seraphic Doctor
His Marian Doctrine
Mary and the Incarnation
Mary's Mediation
Mary's Spiritual Motherhood
Devotion to Mary
Reading: "Standing by the Cross of Jesus" (Jn 19:25)
III. Conrad of Saxony
Mary's Blessed Birth
Mary's Spiritual Beauty
Queen of Earth and Heaven
Mary's Intercession
Reading: Mary's Wonderful Beauty
Reading: The Humble Sweetness of the Mother of God
Reading: The Exalted Dignity of the Mother of God
IV. Albert the Great
A Great Son of St. Dominic
His Marian Doctrine
Mary's Immaculate Conception and Holiness
Mother and Spouse of Christ
The Virginity of the Mother of God
Mary Assumed into Heaven
Mary's Place in the Economy of Salvation
Mother of Men
Reading: Blessed Are You Because You Believed!
Reading: The Virgin's Intervention at Cana
V. Thomas Aquinas
Marian Doctor
His Marian Doctrine
A New Mariological Perspective
The Sanctification of the Virgin
Mary and Salvation
Reading:  The Marriage between Mary and Joseph Was a True Marriage
Reading: The Body of Christ Was Formed from the Most Pure Blood of Mary
Reading: Mary Is Exempt from the Curses of Sin
VI. John Duns Scotus
Outline of His Life and Times
Scotus' Marian Doctrine
Mary's Motherhood
Mary's Virginity
The Virgin  Is Preserved from Original Sin
Reading: The Immaculate Conception and the Mediation of Christ

Part Four: Toward New Expression of Marian Faith and Devotion, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries
I. Raymund Lull
Lull and the Immaculate Conception
Mary's Divine Motherhood and Her Humility
Fullness of Grace
Trinity and Incarnation
II. Ubertino of Casale
An Eventful Life
Mary in the Life of Jesus
Mary in the Mysteries of Jesus' Infancy
Mary in the Paschal Mystery
The Arbor Vitae, Witness to a Spirituality
III. Bridget of Sweden
Her Life and Writings
A Follower of the Franciscan School
Mary and Redemption
The Six Sorrows of the Mother of God
Mediatrix of Grace
IV. Jean Gerson
A Difficult and Committed Life
Theological Prudence and Abundant Thought
Supporter of the Immaculate Conception
Mary's Role in the Worl of Salvation
Mary's Greatness
V. Bernardine of Siena
A Son of St. Francis, in Love with Mary
Doctrinal Exaggerations?
Mary, a Matchless Mother
Mary's Holiness
Mary's Assumption into Heaven
Universal Queen and Mediatrix
VI. Antonius of Florence
Mary's Holiness
Mary's Cooperation in Redemption
Mary's Spiritual Motherhood
VII. Dionysius the Carthusian
An Authoritative Witness to the Marian Tradition of the Church
The Problem of the Immaculate Conception
Mary's Gratitude for the Gift of Her Divine Motherhood
Mary's Cooperation in Redemption; Mediatrix of Grace
VIII. Alanus de Rupe
Teacher and Preacher
His Marian Devotion
His Writings
The Holy Rosary
The Confraternity of the Rosary
IX. Bernardine de Bustis
The Immaculate Conception
Mary's Divine Motherhood
The Mother of God and Redemption
Mary's Glory in Heaven

Select Bibliography
Scripture Index



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St. Anselm of Canterbury

St. Anselm of Canterbury Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 04/21

Also known as

    * Anselm of Aosta
    * Anselmo d’Aosta
    * Anselmo of Canterbury
    * Doctor of Scholasticism


    * 21 April


    Born to the Italian nobility. After a childhood devoted to piety and study, at age 15 Anselm wanted to enter religious life, but his father Gondulf prevented it, and Anselm became rather worldly for several years. Upon the death of his mother, Ermenberge, Anselm argued with his father, fled to France in 1056, and became a Benedictine monk at Bec, Normandy in 1060. He studied under and succeeded Lanfranc as prior of the house in 1063. Abbot of the house in 1078.

    Because of the physical closeness and political connections, there was frequent travel and communication between Normandy and England, and Anselm was in repeated contact with Church officials in England. He was chosen as reluctant Archbishop of Canterbury, England in 1092; officials had to wait until he too sick to argue in order to get him to agree.

    As bishop he fought King William Rufus’s encroachment on ecclesiastical rights and the independence of the Church, refused to pay bribes to take over as bishop, and was exiled for his efforts. He travelled to Rome, Italy and spent part of his exile as an advisor to Pope Blessed Urban II, obtaining the pope‘s support for returning to England and conducting Church business without the king‘s interference. He resolved theological doubts of the Italo-Greek bishops at Council of Bari in 1098.

    In 1100 King Henry II invited Anselm to return to England, but they disputed over lay investiture, and Anselm was exiled again only to return in 1106 when Henry agreed not to interfere with the selection of Church officials. Anselm opposed slavery, and obtained English legislation prohibiting the sale of men. He strongly supported celibate clergy, and approved the addition of several saints to the liturgical calendar of England.

    Anselm was one of the great philosophers and theologians of the middle ages, and a noted theological writer. He was far more at home in the monastery than in political circles, but still managed to improve the position of the Church in England. Counsellor to Pope Gregory VII. Chosen a Doctor of the Church in 1720 by Pope Clement XI.


    * 1033 at Aosta, Piedmont, Italy


    * Holy Wednesday 21 April 1109 at Canterbury, England
    * body believed to be in the cathedral church at Canterbury


    * 1492 by Pope Alexander IV


    * Benedictine monk admonishing an evil-doer
    * archbishop
    * performing an exorcism on a monk
    * ship
    * with Our Lady appearing before him
    * with a ship

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.


St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio

St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 07/15
Tridentine Calendar - 07/14

Patron Of: Against Bowel Disorder

Also known as

    * Seraphic Doctor of the Church
    * the Devout Doctor


    * 15 July


    Healed from a childhood disease through the prayers of Saint Francis of Assisi. Bonaventure joined the Order of Friars Minor at age 22. Studied theology and philosophy in Paris. Friend of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Doctor of Theology. Friend of King Saint Louis IX. General of the Franciscan Order at 35. Bishop of Albano, Italy. Cardinal. Spoke at the Council of Lyons, but died before its close. Writer. Biographer of Saint Francis. Doctor of the Church.


    * 1221 at Bagnoregio, Tuscany, Italy


    * 15 July 1274 at Lyon, France of natural causes


    * 14 April 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV


    * against intestinal problems
    * Bagnoregio, Italy
    * Cochiti Indian Pueblo
    * Saint Bonaventure University, New York


    * cardinal‘s hat
    * ciborium
    * Holy Communion
    * cardinal in Franciscan robes, usually reading or writing

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.


St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Bridget of Sweden Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 07/23
Tridentine Calendar - 10/08

Patron Of: Widows

Also known as

    * Birgit of Sweden
    * Birgitta of Sweden
    * Birgitta of Vadstena
    * Bridgid of Sweden
    * Brigida of Sweden


    * 23 July
    * formerly 8 October


    Daughter of Birger Persson, the governor and provincial judge of Uppland, and of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter. Her father was one of the greatest landowners in the country, her mother was known widely for her piety, and the family were descendants of the Swedish royal house. Related to Saint Ingrid of Sweden.

    Bridget began receiving visions, most of the Crucifixion, at age seven. Her mother died c.1315 when the girl was about twelve years old, and she was raised and educated by an equally pious aunt. In 1316, at age thirteen, Bridget wed prince Ulfo of Nercia in an arranged marriage. She was the mother of eight, including Saint Catherine of Sweden; some of the other children ignored the Church.

    Friend and counselor to many priests and theologians of her day. Chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur in 1335, from which position she counseled and guided the Queen and King Magnus II. After Ulfo’s death in 1344 following a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain she pursued a religious life, for which she was harassed by others at the court. She eventually renounced her title of princess. Franciscan tertiary. Cistercian. Mystic, visionary, and mystical writer. She recorded the revelations given her in her visions, and these became hugely popular in the Middle Ages.

    Founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior (Bridgettines) at Vadstena, Sweden in 1346. It received confirmation by Pope Blessed Urban V in 1370, and survives today, though few houses remain. Pilgrim to Rome, to assorted Italian holy sites, and to the Holy Lands. Chastened and counseled kings and Popes Clement VI, Gregory XI, and Urban VI, urging each to return to Rome from Avignon. Encouraged all who would listen to meditate on the Passion, and of Jesus Crucified.


    * 1302 or 1303 at Finsta Castle, Uppsala, Sweden


    * 23 July 1373 at Rome, Italy of natural causes
    * buried in 1374 at the Vadstena, Sweden convent she had founded


    * 7 October 1391 by Pope Boniface IX


    * Europe
    * Sweden
    * widows


    * abbess in Brigittine robes with a cross on her forehead, and holding a book and pilgrim‘s staff
    * book
    * head and cross
    * nun enthroned, with Christ above her and hell below, while she gives books to the emperor and kings
    * nun giving a book to Saint Augustine
    * nun in ecstasy before the crucifix with instruments of the Passion nearby
    * nun reading, holding a cross, with builders in the background
    * nun with a cross on her brow witnessing the Birth of Christ, which she saw in one of her visions
    * nun with shells, a sign of pilgrimage, sewn on her habit
    * nun writing with a pilgrim‘s equipage nearby
    * nun writing with an angel hovering over her shoulder, often whispering in her ear
    * nun writing while Christ and the Virgin appear before her
    * pilgrim‘s staff
    * small child at the Scourging of Christ, which she saw in one of her visions


All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.


St. Peter Damian

Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 02/21

    Youngest child in a large family. Orphaned. Sent to live with a brother, he was mistreated and forced to work as a swine-herd. Cared for another brother, a priest in Ravenna, Italy. Well educated in Fienza and Parma. Professor. Lived a life of strict austerity.

    Gave up his teaching to become a Benedictine monk. His health suffered, especially when he tried to replace sleep with prayer. Abbot. Founded hermitage. Occasionally called on by the Vatican to make peace between arguing monastic houses, clergymen, and government officials, etc. Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia. Fought simony. Tried to restore primitive discipline among priests and religious who were becoming more and more of the world. Prolific correspondent, he also wrote dozens of sermons, seven biographies (including a one of Saint Romuald), and poetry, including some of the best Latin of the time. Tried to retire to being a monk, but routinely recalled as papal legate. Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828.

    "Let us faithfully transmit to posterity the example of virtue which we have received from our forefathers." - Saint Peter Damian

    1007 at Ravenna, Italy

    22 February 1072 of fever at Ravenna while surrounded by brother monks reciting the Divine Office


    never formally canonized; cultus developed almost immediately after his death; cultus approved and extended to the whole Church in 1823 by Pope Leo XII

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.

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