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8. An Urban Housewife as a Saint for Prussia: Dorothea of Montau and Johannes Marienwerder

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Chapter Summary

The vernacular Vita of Dorothea of Montau has mostly been read as a straightforward biography, yet it is important to recognize its status as a complex literary construction. The Vita focuses on the more unusual stages of her inner development, characterized by extreme forms of ascetic practice from an early age, as well as by visions and stages of rapture, experienced either in the seclusion of her chamber or, increasingly, during mass. By foregrounding metaphors of eating and drinking, the Vita prepares the ground for the form of Eucharistic piety that marks Dorothea's final years as an anchoress, although it is alluded to in the accounts of her earlier life. The extracts from the Life of Dorothea of Montau by Johannes Marienwerder illustrate how Dorothea is presented as a model saint whose devotional practice was worthy of imitation.

Keywords: Dorothea of Montau; Johannes Marienwerder; literary construction; vernacular Vita



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