The Oldest Vocation: Christian Motherhood in the Middle Ages

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9780801482045: The Oldest Vocation: Christian Motherhood in the Middle Ages
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According to an old story, a woman concealed her sex and ruled as pope for a few years in the ninth century, but her downfall came when she went into labor in the streets of Rome. From this myth to the experiences of saints, nuns, and ordinary women, The Oldest Vocation brings to life both the richness and the troubling contradictions of Christian motherhood in medieval Europe.

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This book traces motherhood from early Christian teachings to early modern ones. It reveals how Hebrew and Roman notions of motherhood influenced early Christianity, and how these notions eventually came to downplay biological motherhood while stressing that Christian motherhood was compatible with martyrdom. The study explains how physiological motherhood, spiritual motherhood (found in certain female religions), and theological motherhood (of the Virgin Mary) were influential until the late medieval period, when a number of mother-saints modified the concept of motherhood and stressed both the suffering of mothers and their responsibility for their infants' salvation. This history of the origins and changes in the concept of Christian motherhood is helpful in understanding contemporary views of women. It is highly recommended for seminary, academic, and larger public libraries.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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