Litany of the Saints and the Literary History of OE Hagiography

Litany of the Saints and the Literary History of OE Hagiography at Kalamazoo’s 48th Medieval Congress
Robin Norris, Carleton U
assoc professor, degree from U of Toronto
finishing monograph called Litany of the Saints…
paper is a preview

all female saints are classed as virgins, no matter who/how they are

divided into apostle, martyr, confessor, virgin

Aelfric is more concerned about confessors.
boom of Aelfric scholarship, but litany not studied until Norris (speaker)

analysis of what is happening in each text:
All Saints homily…
1st half (l. 1-146)
willing to alter source text
source puts anchorites after virgins, Aelfric moves anchorites to be sub-category of confessors
moves Mary to virgins, “in order according to her female gender”
Litamus included men and women in virgin list
Aelfric, however, included only women and showed martyred and unmartyred

Excusatio dictantis
“a few homilies in common about apostles and martyrs, confessors and holy women, for the glory of Christ”

No women were in the Catholic homilies.

homilies to be used ad hoc
Aelfric discusses relationships of the homilies
for holy women, he features the story from Matthew on ten virgins

martyrs undermine devils
confessors undermine heretics
martyrs and confessors are paralleled in their responsibilities

Confessor… umbrella term, every possible type of non-martyred saints.
Aelfric makes same move when brings together priests and anchorites.
lists men who are monks and bishops “very holy men whom we call confessors”
Aelfric keeps translating the OE andetteras and states we call these things confessors (Latin).
He is citing the Litany of the Saints.

saints occupy choirs in heaven, have class levels,
minimize differences between martyrs and confessors


Latinic framework is historically ordered.
Virgins take the least important status/place for status.

Aelfric is concerned with treatment of confessors.

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