By Cate Gunn
Ancrene Wisse and Vernacular Spirituality within the center a long time is an advent to the Ancrene Wisse—an vital thirteenth-century advisor for recluses who, for non secular purposes, withdrew from secularity to be able to lead an ascetic and prayer-oriented lifestyles. This quantity considers the vast spiritual context within which the Ancrene Wisse used to be written and broadens that context through addressing problems with readership, drawing comparisons among lay piety and sermons, and not easy many of the long-held perspectives on Ancrene Wisse’s in particular lady readership, articulating a spot for the monastic vintage within the constructing literature of vernacular spirituality.
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Additional resources for Ancrene Wisse: From Pastoral Literature to Vernacular Spirituality
50 The final part of the text is an extended meditation on the Passion and Crucifixion, taken largely from the Gospel accounts. Although it took a different form, the rise in anchoritism in England in the thirteenth century should be seen as a response 45 02Wisse Pt 1 13/12/07 9:49 Page 46 THE RELIGIOUS CONTEXT to the same combination of social and religious factors as led to the development of the women’s religious movement and, in particular, the beguines, on the Continent. There had always been more female than male anchorites in England, but between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there was a dramatic increase in the number of anchoresses.
Given the context, it is clear that what is intended here, by the author of Ancrene Wisse, if not by St James, is a definition of the religious life; the author of Ancrene Wisse sees in this short passage a distinction between active and contemplative forms of religious life. 32 Ancrene Wisse insists that ‘religion’ is not a matter of clothing, or even the vows taken; the implication of much of Ancrene Wisse is that, as anchoresses enduring solitude and strict enclosure, they partake of a spiritual life that is superior, being harsher, to that of nuns.
52 It is clear that they were lay anchoresses; that is, they entered the anchorhold, not as professed nuns seeking a more austere form of life, but from the world – for them, the anchorhold was an alternative to the convent. 53 It had been traditional for anchorites – male and female – to be professed religious who were seeking a harsher life. 55 The opening paragraph of De 46 02Wisse Pt 1 13/12/07 9:49 Page 47 ANCHORITES AND BEGUINES Institutione Inclusarum does, however, refer to a Benedictine model of anchoritism: ‘You must first understand the reasons that motivated the monks of old when they instituted and adopted this form of life .