affective piety

In the later Middle Ages, a growing body of literature focused on the highly personal relationship between an individual and God, which was often described in emotional terms. This affective devotional movement counts among its fruits both the Abbey of the Holy Ghost and Richard Rolle’s Emendatio vitae.

Takamiya MS 65: The Abbey of the holy ghost and other works

Takamiya MS 65, Abbey of the Holy Ghost and other devotional texts. England, c. 1400-1470.

The Abbey of the Holy Ghost, written in Middle English prose, is directed toward a lay audience, in this instance aristocratic women. It was translated from a French text and portrays the devotional life as a metaphorical abbey, “founded and grounded in a clean conscience.” As one might expect, the Holy Trinity plays an important role in the administration of this abbey, with God the Father as its founder, Jesus its governor, and the Holy Spirit its visitor.

Takamiya MS 66: Emendatio vitae and other works

Takamiya MS 66, Emendatio vitae and other works. England, c. 1425-1450.

The Emendatio vitae (The "Mending of Life"), by Richard Rolle, was originally written in Latin. Takamiya MS 66 is an early Middle English translation of this work, which circulated in over one hundred manuscripts in its various versions. Rolle was an important figure in fourteenth-century English devotional literature, and he seems to have lived as a hermit for much of his life. In this work, Rolle describes the process of adopting a hermit’s lifestyle in twelve steps, beginning with the initial moment of conversion and ending with the mystical contemplation of God.