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Entering The Bedchamber Of Your Soul: How Religious Women Learned The Art Of Monastic Meditation

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Chapter Summary

This chapter considers the degree to which the contemplative meditation of religious women was gender specific. It takes four twelfth-century prescriptive texts and analyzes some of the most prominent imagery. These texts work well grouped together, however, in that each author represented the process of prayer through a series of intriguing images, particularly bedchambers, mirrors, tabernacles, and feasts. It then demonstrates that these authors tailored their advice to respond to what they considered the specific needs of religious women. The chapter considers two texts that women themselves were involved in creating, the vita of Christina of Markyate and visionary writings of Elisabeth of Schnau. Author has chosen these because meditation played an important role in the lives of Elisabeth and Christina from early adolescence. It explores their accounts of praying, reading, and immersion in visions in order to determine how and in what context meditation played in their spiritual experiences.

Keywords: bedchamber; Christina of Markyate; Elisabeth of Schönau; monastic meditation; prayer; religious women; soul; spiritual experiences



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