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v2.1 Reference

Blessed Mary and the Monks of England

Benedictines and Cistercians, 1000–1215

In the study of historical Mariology, the monastic communities of England in the eleventh and twelfth centuries—the period so dramatically interrupted and reshaped by the Norman conquest of 1066—receive too little attention. This "monastic age" was a time of great flourishing for both religious life and Mariology, marked by new currents of prayer and thought.

In this volume, Matthew Mills uncovers and draws together vibrant contributions to Marian doctrine and devotion by some of those then living in England under the sixth-century Rule of St. Benedict: the Benedictines and their successors, the Cistercians. In a thematic unfolding of Mary's life and identity, from conception to assumption and intercession, a picture emerges of a Mariology shaped by the constant of monastic liturgy, anchored in the biblical and patristic wisdom cherished and transmitted by the Venerable Bede, and animated by love. Towering figures, such as Anselm of Canterbury and Ælred of Rievaulx, are also placed within a wider landscape alongside lesser known but still significant others, including the Cistercian abbot, John of Forde, royal confessor and pioneer of Marian exegesis of the Song of Songs.

England's monastic Mariology was colored by Greek as well as Latin influences and touched by key experiences of the contemporary church at large: apocalyptic disappointment, reform, sacramentalism, and intense yearning for salvation. In particular, Mills brings to light the significance of Mary for monks' understanding of their own profession: their mother and their lady, Mary was also their icon and exemplar of life in St Benedict's "school for the Lord's service" (Rule, Prol. 45).

About the Author

Matthew J. Mills is Head of Development at Durham Cathedral and an honorary fellow in the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham. He has also held several lectureships within the University of Oxford and remains a senior member of Regent's Park College.


"Blessed Mary and the Monks of England is extremely helpful in several respects. Firstly, it contributes to the construction of an overview of the development of Marian doctrine and devotion in the West in general. It constitutes a very useful step between the very particular and the more general. Secondly, it contributes to what, in England, is a growing interest in English, or British, theology. And thirdly, it illustrates important aspects of Marian devotion that have sometimes been overlooked: for example, the use of Mary as an exemplar for male devotees."—Sarah Jane Boss, Director of the Centre for Marian Studies, University of Roehampton

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July 5, 2024
$85.00 USD

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