A two-day conference at Harvard University
in honor of Professor Beverly M. Kienzle

Friday, Sept. 21-Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ground transportation to the conference

If you are arriving in Boston at Logan Airport, public transportation is an easy way to reach campus. Visit the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) website for a subway map and schedule.
  • Take the SL1 Silver Line bus (MBTA bus/subway) inbound to South Station. The Silver Line has a stop located outside of all terminals. The Silver Line is currently free for all passengers traveling from Boston Logan Airport.
  • At South Station, get on the Red Line subway northbound toward Alewife Station. Take this train to the Harvard Square station.
Once you arrive in Harvard Square, use the walking map below to reach the Barker Center, where the conference will take place. Please note that the location of the reception at Houghton Library is also marked on the map. (Click on the map to zoom in.)
The Barker Center is located at 12 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, and Houghton Library is located in Harvard Yard.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Vauchez abstract

St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Saints in Italian Preaching, c. 1240-1340
André Vauchez
Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Paris

Among the saints of the Middle Ages, St. Francis of Assisi ranks among  those about whom the greatest number of medieval sermons can be found, especially in Italy.  Most were written by Friars Minor, but some were the works of members of other Mendicants orders –especially Dominicans – or of bishops e.g. Federico Visconti, archbishop of Pisa. Moreover a certain number of sermons – most of them are still unpublished -  were written in Italy around the same period about other saints – Anthony of Padua, Clare of Assisi, Louis of Anjou – or about lay saints connected with the Friars like Elizabeth of Hungary or Pietro Pettinaio.

We shall rely on those de sanctis sermons which have been published in order to establish the kind of hagiographic sources  - Vitae, miracles, canonization processes, legendaries – medieval preachers resorted to. We shall also analyze how they used these sources in order to demonstrate the sainthood of the men and women whose merits they were extolling: did these texts serve as mere exempla, allowing the preachers to render their sermons more vivid and concrete? Or did they occasionally prove to be genuine sources of inspiration?

Bériou abstract

Preaching about the Sanctity of St. Dominic, Founder of the Order of Preachers
Nicole Bériou
University of Lyon 2; Director, Institut de recherches et d’histoire des textes; Director of Studies, École pratique des hautes études

The cult in honor of St. Dominic (d. 1221) arose out of preaching without words. His body was at first buried without any special precautions, but on the day of the translation of his remains to the church of the Dominican convent in Bologna (23 May 1233), the body emitted an odor that attested to his sanctity in the presence of all the stupefied witnesses to the miracle. A year later, 3 July 1234, Gregory IX proclaimed him a saint after a short canonization process; according to very recently established procedures, it was based on interrogations of the men and women who had known him. Two modes of representing his sanctity resulted in preaching that was distributed over two liturgical feasts. The motif of the miraculous odor is attested at the outset, and not only from sermons for the feast of the translation. The learned construction of a “modern” figure of sanctity predominates, such as it is abridged in the bull Fons sapientiae, but not without the risk of limiting the evocation of Dominic to a sketch without distinctive traits, an inevitable echo of his own discretion. The selection of characteristics chosen acquires meaning through its repetitive character: the man perfect in the three states of life that he experienced (the lay person, the canon, the apostolic man), but the man of the Gospel above all. As much a leading light on earth as a militant knight armed with the sword of the word, he is clearly the destroyer of heretics (his own book survived the trial by fire) and often also a living reproach to bad prelates. (Active by day, engaged, attentive to others, and compassionate, he reserves the night for fervent prayer, which dries out the damp clothing that he wears.) Before images and legends fixed these anecdotes and others in memory, sermons accorded them a privileged place. If the preachers who consider the sanctity of Dominic from the outside (namely secular clergy) represent his preaching in their sermons as a reflection of their own (preaching that the saint illustrates but everyone attends), the Dominicans distinguished themselves by the place they accorded to their order. Established by St. Dominic, but especially in conformity with the Fons sapientiae and The Book of Jordan of Saxony, and willed by God, the order becomes in many cases the principal subject of their discourse.

Carruthers abstract

‘I preach not, Sir, I come in no pulpit’: Margery Kempe as Saint and Preacher
Leo Carruthers
University of Paris IV, Sorbonne

The paper will examine Margery Kempe’s image as a mystic and a preacher in a social and religious context which made her words and actions highly contentious. However much she may have rejected such claims, the autobiography of 1436-38 does indeed represent her as both a saint and a preacher. She describes her complex religious experiences in detail, leaving no doubt that she saw herself as God’s chosen instrument, though she was fully aware that her detractors did not accept this view. Her devotion to the Virgin Mary and the saints, and her frequent communication with them in prayer, demonstrate the influence of hagiography on the popular imagination, though the automatic control she exercised over this otherworldly contact raises issues of self-delusion and wish-fulfillment.

For an unlettered laywoman Margery displays unusual familiarity with earlier mystical writings in English, which had been read out to her by a priest. She adopted St Bridget of Sweden as a model with whom she liked to identify. She was a noted traveler in foreign parts, making pilgrimages to Rome, Compostella and Jerusalem, at a time when such journeys were difficult and dangerous, all the more so for a woman on her own. It was in Jerusalem that her emotional outbursts first began, which most witnesses found very distressing if not absolutely diabolical, casting much doubt on the authenticity of her mystical experience.

Margery was a fervent devotee of good sermons which she liked to hear and repeat, so much so that she left herself open to accusations of unlawfully preaching. Yet she strongly upheld her personal orthodoxy and denied that she ever preached, saying that she “came in no pulpit” and limited herself to “communication and good words”. She sometimes involved priests and preachers in controversy. Subject more than once to ecclesiastical enquiry, she was obliged to refute her accusers publicly, but nevertheless went on proclaiming the word of God whenever she thought it right to do so. She therefore provides us with unusual insight into some of the possible effects of preaching in medieval religious culture and social life.

Debby abstract

The Cult of St. Clare of Assisi in Early Modern Italy
Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

St. Clare of Assisi (1193-1253) has been experiencing a certain renaissance in recent years, with extensive monographs and editions of her works having been published. Notwithstanding the wealth of visual and literary material attesting to St. Clare's dominant position during the Catholic Reformation, almost nothing has been written on the cult of St. Clare in the Early Modern period. The paper will chart the story of St. Clare beyond the Middle Ages into the modern world as it appears in artistic imagery, hagiographic sources, preached sermons, theatrical performances and religious processions. I shall begin with a discussion of the medieval tradition as an essential background against which to highlight points of innovation and continuity with the Early Modern tradition. The representation of St. Clare appeared in few medieval artistic examples, but thereafter the saint almost "disappeared" for several centuries. The cult of the saint reappeared in the Italian visual tradition at the end of the fifteenth century in isolated examples, and it became especially popular from the late sixteenth century. Thereafter, it was diffused through various media, such as panels, frescoes, drawings and prints. The cult of St. Clare reappeared in Early Modern Italian art due to the activity of Franciscan Observant preachers and, later, Capuchin and Jesuit preachers; they presented St. Clare as a new protector against the Turks, who were threatening Europe at that time. In this context, St. Clare became a Christian crusader heroine defending Christianity against the infidels as a symbol of post-Tridentine Catholic theology and its adoration of the Host. St. Clare was thus no longer depicted as an ascetic mystical saint but rather as an active heroine of Christianity.

Ferzoco abstract

Late Medieval and Early Modern Preaching for Unpopular Cults: The Case of Pope Celestine V
George Ferzoco
University of Bristol

Canonization bulls provided material for bishops and priests throughout Christendom to preach on relevant feast days for new saints, and material from these bulls can be found in sermons. However, not all saints were canonized equally: some had cults that exploded onto the devotional scene, whereas others faltered or failed to attract devotees. One signifier of a ‘failed’ saint’s cult is the comparative paucity of sermons related to him or her. We have well over a thousand different sermons, from the late medieval and early modern periods, dedicated to Francis of Assisi, whereas it is difficult to find any at all dedicated to the feasts of saints such as Peter of the Morrone, more commonly as Pope Celestine the Fifth. Commonly held by modern readers of Dante to be the person identified as ‘he who through cowardice made the great refusal’, we find a majority – but far from a unanimity -- of medieval commentators to have been sympathetic to the figure of an austere holy man who, after sixty years as a hermit, was elected pope only to become the sole person ever to resign that position voluntarily. Strikingly, almost no sermons dedicated to him have survived. This paper will endeavor to explain and illustrate this homiletic curiosity.

Howard abstract

‘Adorabo ad templum sanctum tuum’: Preaching and the Actualization of the Holy in Renaissance Florence
Peter Howard
Monash University

Sometime in the second quarter of the fifteenth century, Fra Antonino Pierozzi OP - prominent reformer and eventually archbishop of Florence – preached on a theme drawn from the 5th psalm, and explored the meaning of activity proper for churches.  A church, we are told, was not a place for business or chatter, but for a devotion that was both interior and external.  With a veiled reference to two separate, well-known stories - the expulsion of tax collectors and moneylenders from the temple, and of the adolescent Jesus discoursing to the elders in the temple - Fra Antonino instructs his hearers on the context of appropriate behaviour in church. Ecclesiastical space was for teaching and preaching - both verbally and visually – and for devotion.   It was for preachers, artists and devotees.

This prominent and influential preacher draws striking parallels between the methods employed by preacher and artist alike to develop their themes, and goes on to examine the stance of the viewer before an image: “One should adore with the soul through devotion…. with the body by genuflecting, prostrating and suchlike…”.

The proposed paper will examine Fra Antonino’s sermon in detail as a unique entree into the perceptual world of Renaissance Florentines, at least as envisaged by the city’s archbishop.  The study will examine the roots and developments proffered by the preacher’s psychology of representation and its implications for our understanding of developments in devotional art in the fifteenth century.

The study will add further to our understanding of the way in which Florentines understood the actualization of the sacred through visualization at a time when painting in Florence was undergoing rapid change.