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Sacred Space And Ritual: Creating An Expectancy Of Restraint

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Chapter Summary

Churches were, without doubt, the most noticeable, most tangible and most ubiquitous signs of Christianity in late medieval England. While many parishioners only received the Eucharist once a year, these same individuals would have loitered, processed and worshiped in their parish churches and churchyards on close to a weekly basis. By custom, law and ritual, the clergy endeavored to make sacred space an inviolable place of peace and charity, a true Sanctus locus, but due both to their own design as well as to their acceptance of some contemporary customs, they never fully fashioned parish churches into otherworldly havens, free from earthly concerns for gender, status and reputation. Even in the early stages of Christianity, the clergy had a strong reason for trying to protect churches from pollution. They sought to abide by the Old Testament tradition of individual purity and sanctuary within God's temple.

Keywords: Christianity; Eucharist; God; medieval England; parishioner; Sacred Space

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