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'I wish to remain single, for I have made a vow of virginity.' This is the remarkable story of the twelfth-century recluse Christina, who became prioress of Markyate, near St Albans in Hertfordshire. Determined to devote her life to God and to remain a virgin, Christina repulses the sexual advances of the bishop of Durham. In revenge he arranges her betrothal to a young nobleman but Christina steadfastly refuses to consummate the marriage and defies her parents' cruel coercion. Sustained by visions, she finds refuge with the hermit Roger, and lives concealed at Markyate for four years, enduring terrible physical and emotional torment. Eventually Christina is supported by the abbot of St Albans, and her reputation as a person of great holiness spreads far and wide. Written with striking candour by Christina's anonymous biographer, the vividness and compelling detail of this account make it a social document as much as a religious one. Christina's trials of the flesh andspirit exist against a backdrop of scheming and corruption and all-too-human greed.
Samuel Fanous and Henrietta Leyser present a vivid interdisciplinary study devoted to the life, work and extant vita of Christina of Markyate, which draws on research from a wide range of disciplines. This fascinating and comprehensive collection surveys the life of an extraordinary medieval woman. Christina of Markyate made a vow of chastity at an early age, against the wishes of her parents who intended her to marry. When forced into wedlock, she fled in disguise and went into hiding, receiving refuge in a network of hermitages. Christina became a religious recluse and eventually founded a priory of nuns attached to St. Albans. Beautifully illustrated, this book provides students who regularly encounter Christina with a research compendium from which to begin their studies, and introduces Christina to a wider audience.
Provides brief biographies of seventy extraordinary women of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ranging from Akka Mahadevi, an Indian saint and poet, to Katharina Zell, a German Protestant humanitarian.
In his inaugural lecture, Professor Mayr-Harting presents a theme of religious history, namely angels, in a new light, seeking to counteract the sensationalism which is now becoming associated with the subject in many quarters. He first analyses the point of perceiving certain apparitions or experiences as angelic in generally socio-anthropological terms; he considers the hostility of angels - sometimes - towards men and how that hostility relates to the magical purposes of invoking angels. Finally, he argues that in the medieval West angels gradually lost their functions of intervention as social agents, and came to be considered more purely in their aspect of contemplators of God, and invisible, `caelesticized', helpers of men.

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