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  • ISBN: 9780271016313
  • ISBN10: 0271016310

Stories of the Rose the Making of the Rosary in the Middle Ages

by Anne Winston-Allen

  • List Price: $43.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Pennsylvania State Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 06/01/1997
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Description: An illustrated history of the medieval origins of the rosary.

For centuries, the rosary has been one of the most popular expressions of religious devotion among Roman Catholics, but its origins remain obscure. Stories of the Rose presents a compelling and readable history of the rosary in its formative years. It explores the many spiritual, literary, and artistic dimensions of the rosary and explains how and why it became so popular on the eve of the Protestant Reformation.

In its most basic form, the rosary is a series of prayers and meditations designed to bring the worshiper closer to God through the Virgin Mary. But, as Anne Winston-Allen shows, there was no single text of the rosary prayer: different versions, some in German and some in Latin, evolved over the course of the late Middle Ages as communities of believers experimented with their own forms. She also finds that rosary prayers were influenced by secular, even courtly literature that used images of the rose and rose garden; in the rosary, Mary is the Mystical Rose.

Far-reaching in its effects, the rosary was a tremendous source of inspiration for writers and artists, who created scores of rosary books, testimonial anecdotes, legends, songs, and poems. In the visual arts the rosary inspired devotional paintings, altars, sculptures, and block prints, many of which are pictured in this book. According to Winston-Allen, all of these elements combined to create a new, more engrossing devotional practice with widespread appeal.

She finds that the rosary was particularly suited to the needs of lay faithful, providing spiritual help that could be mediated by associations of lay persons and dispensed outside the corporateliturgical offices of the church. In an age when religious piety was bursting beyond the traditional bounds of church and monastery, the rosary became a "lay person's breviary" or a "common man's hours".

Stories of the Rose elegantly shows us how a religious practice such as the rosary, whose form may seem fixed, actually grew and changed gradually in response to the very people who were practicing it. In this, it shows the great vitality that existed in personal religious devotion on the eve of the Reformation and also helps to explain the continuing appeal of the rosary in the present day.

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