The contemplative and the mixed lives at Syon

Alexandra da Costa

in Reforming Printing

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653560
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742026 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

The contemplative and the mixed lives at Syon

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This chapter demonstrates that the brethren's outward focus co-existed, if uneasily, with a continued commitment to contemplation. Well aware of late medieval criticism of the monastic life, most recently discussed by Vincent Gillespie in his article ‘Monasticism’, the Syon writers strove to show that the Bridgettines remained true to the ascetic and eremetic ideals of the desert fathers, while taking care not to seem irrelevant by maintaining their pastoral outreach. They also attempted to accommodate the laity's desire for a closer and more direct relationship with God, while discouraging them from striving for mystical experience, an activity which Denise Despres shows had become problematically associated with threatening dissent. This chapter chimes with recent, more positive evaluations of the contribution religious made to late medieval life.

Keywords: monasticism; contemplation; contemplative life; mixed life; active life; mysticism

Chapter.  9647 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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