Eradicating sin, in practice

Tom Licence

in Hermits and Recluses in English Society, 950–1200

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592364
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595639 | DOI:
Eradicating sin, in practice

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Chapter 6 asks what it meant in practice to eradicate sin and responds with a discussion of the strategies anchorites developed in the field of spiritual warfare. Their first imperative was to flee ordinary society, to separate themselves from its temptations. Asceticism and flagellation thereafter restrained bodily appetites, quenched lustful urges, and thus strengthened the soul at the expense of the sinful flesh. Since its inception, the anchoretic vocation had borne a trademark obligation to do battle with the devil: anchorites consequently singled themselves out for the ceaseless attacks of irate, invidious demons. The tactics that both sides developed are interpreted in this chapter. The last mark of an anchorite's success was forbearance in the vocation, and the discussion concludes by assessing the significance of long years spent in the hermitage.

Keywords: sin; asceticism; demons; spiritual warfare; temptation; the body

Chapter.  9729 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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