Suffering and Consolation in Late Medieval Mysticism

Ronald K. Rittgers

in The Reformation of Suffering

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199795086
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950171 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Historical Theology

Suffering and Consolation in Late Medieval Mysticism

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This chapter examines yet another body of consolation literature that was available to the late medieval clergy as they ministered to suffering Christians: works of mysticism. The chapter discusses the unique role of suffering as invitation to (somatic) union with the crucified Christ in late medieval German mysticism, showing how this understanding of suffering was expressed in devotional works that were extremely popular in the later Middle Ages. The mystical works of Mechthild of Magdeburg, Margaret Ebner, Henry Suso, and Johannes Tauler receive special attention. The chapter also examines the role of the Passion of Christ in late medieval lay piety. It concludes by discussing the availability of ascetical and mystical works of consolation and then provides a brief case study of consolation via letter between a Nuremberg nun and a patrician’s wife that demonstrates borrowing from each of the consolation traditions that have been examined in chapters 1 to 3.

Keywords: mysticism; suffering; consolation; Mechthild of Magdeburg; Margaret Ebner; Henry Suso; Johannes Tauler

Chapter.  9021 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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