Pastors and the Care of Souls in Medieval England

Pastors and the Care of Souls in Medieval England

  • Edited by John Shinners, William J. Dohar

  • 352 pages, 0.00 x 0.00

  • Paperback | 9780268038502 | February 1998

  • Hardcover | 9780268038212 | February 1998

  • Notre Dame Texts in Medieval Culture


Recent scholarship concerning parish priests in medieval England, their professional training, and their daily pastoral work has produced a more complex and realistic picture of parish clergy in the High and Late Middle Ages which dispels many of the durable myths and stereotypical images that emerged from popular studies written almost a century ago. In this source book, John Shinner and William Dohar bring together a large, varied selection of medieval documents on pastoral care. These materials from a wide range of sources —administrative, theological, legal, historical, and literary—are grouped thematically and prefaced by introductions to each chapter which set the context provide basic background information, and offer a concise summary of the recruitment, training, occupations, and circumstances of the parish clergy during the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. Included in the readings are excerpts from pastoral manuals, bishops’ registers, diocesan legislation, financial accounts, and records of parish visitations that when combined offer a vivid picture of daily parish life. The readings in this volume focus first of all on the multifaceted lives and responsibilities of those men who engaged in the pastoral care of souls in medieval England. What emerges is not the old view of these priests as a fairly anonymous and homogeneous mass entity but rather as a richly diverse group—from noble to baseborn, from academically brilliant to barely lettered, from deeply pious to grossly opportunistic, and from utterly committed to despicably derelict in carrying out their pastoral duties. Selected documents go on to illuminate the elaborate systems of support created to help parish clergy: the administrative divisions of the institutional church; the methods of formulating and disseminating instruction on theological, canonical, and liturgical subjects; and the legal apparatus formed to direct the cure of souls. By highlighting the wider social and religious milieu in which the medieval pastor worked, the author / editors intend to guide the reader to richer appreciation of the Christian religion’s inextricable bond to nearly every facet of life in the High and Late Middle Ages. Suitable for a number of classroom applications and academic disciplines, this book offers those interested in pastoral care, medieval studies, and church history a unique sourcebook, the only collection of translated documents specifically devoted to the lives and mission of the parish clergy in medieval England.