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Cum Aliquis Venerit Ad Sacerdotem: Penitential Experience In The Central Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

The first step in uncovering the lay experience of penance is separating the goal of penance-what those who administered it wanted penance to do-from the role of penance-what it actually did for the people who experienced it. Secondarily, the laity would have effected shifts in the goal of penance as clerics, knowingly or not, adapted practices to better achieve their goals in the new cultural milieu. There are two problems that present themselves in any study of the rituals of early medieval penance: the nature of the documentation, and the difficulties inherent in the study of ritual activity from another time and society. There are numerous liturgical ordines for penance in manuscripts dated to the early medieval period, and these ordines appear in a variety of documents.

Keywords: central middle ages; ordines; penitential experience

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