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Abbot Erluin’s Blindness : The Monastic Implications Of Violent Loss Of Sight

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Chapter Summary

On the night of October 20, 957 three young monks at the monastery of Lobbes assaulted their acting abbot, Erluin of Gembloux, blinding him and cutting out part of his tongue. Using the differing narratives from Lobbes and Gembloux this chapter examines the specific monastic implications of Erluins wounds, particularly focusing on the meanings associated with loss of sight. The close association between the physical eye and the eye of the soul is particularly evident in prescriptive writings on monastic meditation. During the process of meditational prayer the monastic employed visual imagery to gain access to the eye of the soul. Theories of ocular extramission led to a perception that physical sight was haptic, because rays of light from the eye were believed to touch the object of the gaze and then return to the eye of the viewer.

Keywords: Abbot Erluin; Gembloux; Lobbes; loss of sight; monastic meditation; ocular extramission



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