1Vox Benedictina 9/1 (1992): 66–107.

2 For an overview of the proliferation of research into the lives and spirituality of high mediæval women religious, see the bibliography in Elizabeth Alvida Petroff, Medieval Women’s Visionary Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 373–391.

3 For a partial listing of mediæval religious women’s writings see Petroff, Visionary Literature, pp. 373–375, and the sources drawn on by Caroline Walker Bynum in Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), especially in Chapter 5, “Food in the Writings of Women Mystics,” pp. 150–186. For Italian women writers in particular, see Elizabeth Alvida Petroff, The Consolation of the Blessed: Women Saints in Medieval Tuscany (New York: Alta Gaia, 1980), soon to be reprinted by Peregrina Publishing Co.

4 Christine of St. Trond has received her share of scholarly attention in recent years. Some sense of the religious backdrop of her life and spirituality can be gained by consulting Brenda M. Bolton, “Vitæ matrum: A Further Aspect of the Frauenfrage” in Medieval Women, ed. Derek Baker (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1970): pp. 253–173. See also Bynum’s treatment of Christine in Holy Feast and Holy Fast, pp. 24, 115, 117, 120–123, 193, 203, 211, 223, 234, 273–274, 391 n. 85; the work of Simone Roisin, in particular her L’Hagiographie cistercienne dans le diocèse de Liège au XIIIe siècle (Louvain: Bibliothèque de l’Université, 1946) and “La méthode hagiographique de Thomas de Cantimpré” in Miscellanea historica in honorem Alberti de Meyer (Louvain: Bibliothèque de l’Université, 1946): pp. 546–557 and Margot H. King, “The Sacramental Witness of Christina Mirabilis: The Mystic Growth of a Fool for Christ’s Sake” in Peaceweavers, ed. Lillian Thomas Shank and John A. Nichols, Medieval Religious Women 2 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1987), pp. 145–164. For the biography of Thomas of Cantimpré, see the articles of A. Deboutte, “Thomas van Cantimpré zijn opleiding te Kamerijk” Ons geestelijk erf 56 (1982): 283–299 and “Thomas van Cantimpré als auditor van Albertus Magnus” Ons geestelijk erf 58 (1984): 192–209.

5 Thomas of Cantimpré, Vita beatæ Christinæ mirabilis virginis, ed. J. Pinius in AA.SS 32 (24 July, 5): cols. 650–660; trans. Margot H. King, The Life of Christina of Saint Trond, Peregrina Translations series (1986; Toronto: Peregrina Publishing Co., 1989), hereafter cited as VCM. The passage in question is VCM prol. 1.650B. James of Vitry describes Christine’s death and resurrection in the prologue to his Vita Mariæ Oigniacensis, ed. D. Papebroeck, in AA.SS (23 June, 5): cols. 542–572; trans. Margot H. King, The Life of Marie d’Oignies, in Two Lives of Marie d’Oignies, Peregrina Translations series (Toronto: Peregrina Publishing Co., 1993), hereafter cited as VMO.

6 VCM prol. 1–2; 650B–C.

7VCM, prol. 3; 650C–D.

8 Ibid., 5. 56; 659F

9Ibid., 5.56; 659F.

10Ibid., 1.4; 651E.

11 Ibid., 1.4; 651E.

12 Ibid., 1.5; 651E.

13 Ibid., 1.5; 651F.

14 For the elaboration of the doctrine of purgatory in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century, see Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984). For the role of purgatory in another vita written by Thomas of Cantimpré, see Le Goff’s discussion of Lutgard of Aywières on pp. 324–326.

15 VCM 1.6–7; 652A.

16Ibid., 1.7–8; 652B.

17Ibid., 1.8; 652B.

18 Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum I, ed. G. Boese (Berlin-New York: 1973), prol. 91–96.5. For the dating of this work, see A. Deboutte, “Thomas van Cantimpré als auditor Albertus Magnus” Ons geestelijk erf 58 (1984): 192–209.

19 All denotations of the proper ends of preaching which are found in thirteenth-century artes prædicandi and in scholastic sermon prothemes connect preaching with faith and morals. Alan of Lille provides perhaps the most frequently cited example: prædicatio est, manifesta et publica instructio morum et fidei, informationi hominum deserviens . . . . (PL 210, col. 111C–D). Like that of Alan, most denotations see the aim of preaching vis-à-vis morals in more expansive terms than those of Thomas of Cantimpré. Alan, for example, speaks of instructio morum rather than merely correctio morum although, to be sure, correction is subsumed under the broader notion of instruction. One sees a rather clear example of this in the ars prædicandi of Thomas of Chobham: see his discussion of the kinds of preaching in his Summa de arte prædicandi, ed. F. Morenzoni in C.C.M. 82, pp. 15–19. Thomas of Cantimpré’s more constricted approach to morals becomes less than surprising, however, when one considers the homiletics of his mentor and hero in preaching, James of Vitry. The latter, in his prothemes, focusses overwhelmingly upon the preacher’s duty to convict his hearers of their vice and sin in order to provoke contrition. In this regard, see J.B. Schneyer, Die Unterweisung der Gemeinde über die Predigt bei scholastischen Prediger: Ein Homiletik aus scholastischen Prothemen, (Munich-Paderborn-Vienna: 1968), pp. 21–23, esp. p. 22, n. 5.

20 VCM 3.29; 655D.

21 One finds a particularly clear example in VCM 3.27; 655C.

22 VCM 4.40; 657D

23 See the discussion of themata in Th. Charland, Artes prædicandi: Contribution à l’histoire de la rhétorique au moyen âge (Paris-Rouen: 1936).

24 See M. Peuchmard, “Mission canonique et prédication: le prêtre ministre de la parole dans la querelle entre mendiants et séculiers au XIIIe siècles” Recherches de la théologie ancienne et médiévale 30 (1963): pp. 122–144; 251–276.

25 One thinks, in this regard, of the sermons of the mistress of the Grand Béguinage at Paris preserved in the manuscripts studied by Nicole Bériou in “La prédication au béguinage de Paris pendant l’année liturgique 1272–1273” Recherches augustiniennes 13 (1978): 105–229.

26 See n. 22 above.

27 In his prologue, Thomas identifies himself as a Dominican friar and that he was writing this biography within eight years of Christine’s death in 1224. The work then was written in 1232. That it appeared shortly after Thomas’s induction into the Order of Friars Preachers can be inferred from information gained from other sectors of his literary œuvre. In his first effort at spiritual biography, the Vita Joannis Cantimpratensis (recently edited in R. Godding, “Une œuvre inédite de Thomas de Cantimpré: La ‘Vita Ioannis Cantimpratensis’” Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 76 (1981): 241–316), a work to which he returned as an old man, he stated that he had joined the Victorine community at Cantimpré shortly before the death of Matthew of Cantimpré (6 February 1218) (VJC 1.15.8–27.270) and that he was a member of the community for fifteen years (VJC prol. 24–29.258). Since he was already a Dominican in 1232 and entered the Victorine house shortly before Matthew died, it would appear that he joined the Victorines in 1217 and moved on to the Dominicans in 1232. This view is confirmed by personal information included in the treatise of his maturity, the Bonum universale de apibus–75 (the reference given refers to the edition of G. Colvenère, Bonum universale de apibus, sive, Miraculorum et exemplorum memorabilium sui temporis libri duo (Douai, 1627). There Thomas states that he was sent off to a cathedral school in preparation for a clerical life in 1206 and that he continued to study there for eleven years. Consequently he must have finished his basic education in letters in 1217 and entered the Victorine house at Cantimpré in the same year.

28 In 1230–1231, Thomas worked on a supplement to James of Vitry’s biography of Mary of Oignies. It is in this context that Thomas most likely came to know of Christine of St. Trond and conceived the idea of writing her biography: Vita Mariæ Oigniacensis, supplementum, ed. Arnold Rayssius in AA.SS (June 23) Iunius 5 (Paris: 1867): 572–581; trans. Hugh Feiss, The Supplement to Jacques de Vitry’s Life of Marie d’Oignies, by Thomas de Cantimpré in Two Lives of Marie d’Oignies, Peregrina Translations Series (Toronto: Peregrina Publishing Co., 1993).

29 See n. 27 above.

30 Caroline Walker Bynum, Docere verbo et exemplo: An Aspect of Twelfth-Century Spirituality, Harvard Theological Studies 31 (Missoula MT: Scholars Press, 1979). See also her chapter “The Spirituality of Regular Canons in the Twelfth Century” in Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley-Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982): pp. 22–58.

31 See Bynum, Docere verbo et exemplo, pp. 15–16.

32 See Gregory the Great, Cura pastoralis (PL 77, cols. 12–128). For the interconnectedness of a preacher’s word and life, see 3.40, col. 124D–125D. For the teaching efficacy of deed among the simple, see 3.7; col. 57B–C.

33 Bynum, Docere verbo et exemplo, pp. 77–98.

34 See Bynum’s discussion of MS Ottoboni Lat. 175 in Docere verbo et exemplo, pp. 36–38.

35 See Bynum’s illuminating remarks on the meaning of “example” in Docere verbo et exemplo, pp. 77–87.

36 One finds extensive use of Gregory’s tripartite division of Christian society in the brief preface to the second book of Bonum universale de apibus 2. præf. 107. The characterisation of preaching as teaching by word and deed is found in BUA–442.

37 See Godding, “Une œuvre inédite,” pp. 245–247.

38 Examples of this activity can be found in VJC 1.4.260; 1.5.261; 1.7.263; 1.9.264; 1.17.275; 2.3.280; 1.8bis–14.291–298; 2.18.302; 2.22.304; 3.2.309; 3.3.311. For a study of the apostolic movement (with its emphasis on preaching) in the Low Countries, see R. Godding, “Vie apostolique et société urbaine à l’aube du XIIIe siècle” Nouvelle revue théologique 114 (1982): 692–721.

39 Christine’s life, as portrayed by Thomas, proves a demonstrable example of, in the words of Jo Ann McNamara, women religious “constructing” their lives as “living sermons.” See her article, “Living Sermons: Consecrated Women and the Conversion of Gaul” in Peaceweavers, ed. Lillian Thomas Shank and John A. Nichols, Medieval Religious Women 2 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1987), pp. 19–37.

40The close connection between preaching and sacrament of penance in the thirteenth century is well illustrated by the tenth canon of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). The canon is designed principally to encourage bishops to recruit qualified preachers to help him carry out his episcopal responsibilities to preach. It, however, adds that suitable confessors should also be recruited. This close juxtaposition of preachers and confessors implies that preaching has as one of its primary effects the contrition of hearers and will, consquently, produce business for confessors. For the text of the tenth canon of this Council, see Conciliorum oecumenicorum decreta (Bologna, 1973), pp. 239–240.

41 VCM 1.5.6; 651E–F (levitation); 1.9; 652B–C and 2.16; 653E (living in trees).

42 Ibid., 1.10; 652C–D (ovens); 2.21; 654B–C (baptismal font); 1.10 and 12; 652C–E (icy waters).

43 Ibid., 1.9; 652B–C (feeding); 2.19; 654A (salving).

44 Ibid., 2.18; 653F (dungeon walls); 3.35; 656B (ball).

45Ibid., 2.17; 653E (embarrassment of friends); 5.47–49; 658E–659A (personal tension); 2.19–20; 654A–B (horror-fascination).

46 King, “The Sacramental Witness,” pp. 150, 151–152.

47 Herbert Thurston, “Christine of Saint Trond” in Surprising Mystics (London: Burns & Oates, 1955), p. 149.

48 Roisin, “La méthode hagiographique.”


50 DNR prol. 1–5.3.

51 DNR prol. 75–90.4–5.

52 See Frances A. Yates’s illuminating remarks in the third and fourth chapters of The Art of Memory (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966), pp. 27–104.

53 Thomas Aquinas, , 2.

54 In the Life of Lutgard of Aywières, Thomas distinguishes admiranda from imitanda. Miracula and mirabilia are to be marvelled at (admiranda), whereas virtutes are to be imitated (imitanda) (Vita Lutgardis, ed. G. Henschenius, AA.SS 24 (16 June, 4): cols. 187–210); trans. Margot H. King: The Life of Lutgard of Aywières, Peregrina Translations series (Toronto: Peregrina Publishing Co., 1991). That Lutgard’s astonishing deeds—her mirabilia and miracula—are properly to be marvelled at but are not offered up as subjects for imitation, Thomas makes clear at many points throughout her biography. To give but one example, Thomas makes a point of showing that the extreme single-mindedness of which Lutgard was capable was taken up as a model for imitation by her religious companions proved to be an occasion for discord: “As a result of this, she was kept apart from almost all human speech and consolation and totally yearned for heavenly things. When some of her rivals slandered her stricter way of life (which they could not imitate), they would say, ‘Leave her alone now while her fervour is in full flood . . . .’” (1.8; 192E, trans. p. 27). The implication of this passage would seem to be that her sisters’ proper response to Lutgard’s amazing capacity ought to have been simple wonder, not imitation. Their improper attempt to imitate caused hurt and harm which could only be undone by yet further mirabilia. That her virtues on the other hand are to inspire emulation, Thomas makes explicit in his prologue where he says, “May it [the vita] increase virtue and merit in its readers to whom it will be at hand as a lesson and example of virtue” (Prol. 189F; trans. p. 20).

55 For a clear and nearly contemporary Dominican statement of these views, see Thomas Aquinas, 4.70.3. resp.

56 See Thomas Aquinas, IV Sent., 21.1.3. resp.

57 For a contemporary Dominican on the dotes with which the bodies of the elect are endowed, see Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiæ, 4.82–85.

58 For the character and limits of Victorine apostolate ad extra in the Low Countries during the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, see Alcantara Mens, Oorsprong en betekenis van de nederlandse begijnen- en begardenbeweging: Vergelijkende studie: Xiide-XIIde eeuw, Universiteit te Leuven Publicaties 3/3 (Leuven: Universiteitsbibliotheek, 1947). For the consolidation of Dominican apostolate, see L.E. Boye, "Notes on the Education of Fratres communes in the Dominican Order in the Thirteenth Century" in Xenia medii ævi historiam illustrantia oblata Thomæ Kæppeli O.P.: Edizione di storia e letteratura, ed. R. Creytens and P. Kunzle (Rome: 1978): pp. 153-159.

59 For this phrase and its meaning, see Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988): pp. 153-159.

60 Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, pp. 120-121, 136-137, 175, 207, 235, 399 n54.

61 Ibid., pp. 127, 129, 133, 171, 227, 134, 242, 281.

62 See, in particular, Rudolph Bell, Holy Anorexia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985).

63Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, pp. 189-296.