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Seeing Through The Surface: Vision As Supra-Sacramental Sight

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Chapter Summary

Visions played a role as instances of ‘supra-sacramental sight’ in a piety deeply saturated in multiple forms of what may be termed ‘sacramental sight.’ The visual orientation of visions was not idiosyncratic. Instead, it fit into the larger picture of medieval theology and piety. An exploration of the English medieval didactic visions related to the cult of the Passion and to issues of epistemology uncovers the deep connection between this emphasis on the visual and the sacramental nature of medieval spirituality. The exceptional instances of Supra-Sacramental Sight, as found in visions, supported the daily habits of sacramental sight affirmed by the Church. Visions yet again buttressed key elements of the Faith. This chapter explores a number of different types of sacramental and supra-sacramental ways of gazing at spiritual matters: the Passion-ate, the eucharistic, the concretizing, and the ‘visionized’ gazes.

Keywords: English medieval didactic visions; medieval spirituality; medieval theology; piety; sacramental sight; supra-sacramental sight; visions; visual orientation



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