How anchorites helped others

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:
How anchorites helped others

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Academic debates about sin and confession in the parish have begun to investigate the anchorite's role. Chapter 7, building on the argument that the anchorite's vocation was concerned with eradicating sin, reveals how anchorites helped their clients and confraternity members to tackle the problem of sin in their own lives. The first step, usually, was to inspire repentance in the sinner or extract some sort of confession by a process of informal negotiation, whereby penitent supplicants hoped for intercession in return. Contrite clients were rewarded with the anchorite's services as an intermediary between God and humanity, but not everyone was lucky enough or worthy to enjoy this special privilege. Anchorites would not do all the work; sinners were expected to undertake penance, but the parish anchorite, who communicated with the heavens through visions, may well have offered a certain spiritual expertise that was lacking in the parish priest.

Keywords: sin; confession; intercession; confraternity; parish; visions; mysticism

Chapter.  11869 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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