Date of Submission

Spring 2022

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Karen Sulivan

Project Advisor 2

Marisa Libbon

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This project attempts to understand the relationship between a Medieval anchoress and Christ as a romantic relationship rather than a spiritual metaphor. Mystical marriage, the union of a human woman with Christ, son of God, is a popular formulation of the relationship a medieval anchoress experiences through her religious enclosure. Through analysis of a collection of thirteenth century Middle English texts written to instruct anchoresses on the maintenance of mystical marriage, I argue that the love between the anchoress and God is produced through action rather than a spontaneously generated emotion. The Katherine Group, or Ancrene Wisse Group, consists of a love poem to Christ in the voice of an anchoress, a guide on proper comportment as an anchoress, and three Lives of female saints who participated in mystical marriage. These texts provide a “squint” into the lives of thirteenth century anchoresses in the English West Midlands and suggest how these women practiced mystical marriage.

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Open Access

Creative Commons License

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