Framing Medieval Liturgy through the Marginal

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Whereas medieval liturgy has often been presented as a specialized and complex but well-defined area, gradually and to a high extent bound by tradition, modern scholarship has increasingly shown how difficult it is to define or circumscribe what the notion covers, or what may be the margins of the notion, even in later medieval centuries. In this article, I propose to shed light on the notion of medieval liturgy, framing the notion, as it were, by analyzing ceremonies that by many would be considered to belong to the fringes of liturgy, ceremonies which even—problematically—have been understood as biblical and liturgical theater. I shall focus on two twelfth-century Easter ceremonies,
which in their theological contents are traditional and uncontroversial, and hardly were thought of as theater by contemporaries. In their form, however, they show an acute interest in experimenting with (and thus changing) traditional liturgical procedures. These examples underline how, even on one of
the holiest of feasts, Easter Day, at least outside the most central and sacrosanct liturgical elements, such as the Eucharist and the overall structure of the mass, liturgy was innovative and flexible. Although innovation was not principally seen as a positive quality at the time, and justification of changes would normally be given by reference to tradition, changes were indeed made, theologically,
for instance in the understanding of sacraments, and—as proposed in the article probably at least partly connected to such changes—also in liturgical practices. The broader perspective of the article also concerns methodology, in terms of the importance of interdisciplinarity and intermediality, for future research in medieval liturgy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number95
Issue number2
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2022

ID: 290182683