The Mystical Presence of Christ

The Mystical Presence of Christ

The Exceptional and the Ordinary in Late Medieval Religion

Richard Kieckhefer

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Description

The Mystical Presence of Christ investigates the connections between exceptional experiences of Christ's presence and ordinary devotion to Christ in the late medieval West. Unsettling the notion that experiences of seeing Christ's figure or hearing Christ speak are simply exceptional events that happen at singular moments, Richard Kieckhefer reveals the entanglements between these experiences and those that occur through the imagery, language, and rituals of ordinary, everyday devotional culture.

Kieckhefer begins his book by reconsidering the "who" and the "how" of Christ's mystical presence. He argues that Christ's humanity and divinity were equally important preconditions for encounters, both exceptional and ordinary, which Kieckhefer proposes as existing on a spectrum of experience that moves from presupposition to intuition and finally to perception. Kieckhefer then examines various contexts of Christ manifestations—during prayer, meditation, and liturgy, for example—with attention to gender dynamics and the relationship between saintly individuals and their hagiographers. Through penetrating discussions of a diverse set of texts and figures across the long fourteenth century (Angela of Foligno, the nuns of Helfta, Margery Kempe, Dorothea of Montau, Meister Eckhart, Henry Suso, and Walter Hilton, among others), Kieckhefer shows that seemingly exceptional manifestations of Christ were also embedded in ordinary religious experience.

Wide-ranging in scope and groundbreaking in methodology, The Mystical Presence of Christ is a magisterial work that rethinks the interplay between the exceptional and the ordinary in the workings of late medieval religion.


Author

Richard Kieckhefer:

Richard Kieckhefer is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies with a joint appointment in the Department of History at Northwestern University. Among his ten books are Unquiet Souls, Magic in the Middle Ages, Theology in Stone, and European Witch Trials.

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