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Title:The prose lives of Venantius Fortunatus: Hagiography, lay piety and pastoral care in sixth-century Gaul
Author(s):Navalesi, Kent E
Director of Research:Mathisen, Ralph W
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Mathisen, Ralph W
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Shanzer, Danuta; Symes, Carol; Layton, Richard
Department / Program:History
Discipline:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):hagiography
Venantius Fortunatus
popular religion
Christianity
Gaul
Late Antiquity
Abstract:This study uses the prose hagiography of the poet Venantius Fortunatus (c.530-600/609 CE) to examine the relationship between hagiographical narrative and pastoral care in the early Merovingian kingdoms. Consisting of the lives of six bishops and the ascetic Queen Radegund, this body of work has been studied primarily as evidence for the social, religious and political power of the Gallic episcopacy and the literary promotion of saints’ cults in sixth-century Gaul. Hagiography, however, was also becoming increasingly instrumental in bishops’ religious instruction of the laity and in the laity’s own efforts to achieve salvation. This study uses stylistic, semiotic and intertextual analysis to examine the ways these works spoke to the laity’s fundamental religious concerns, particularly in the context of their public reading in the mass. These concerns include, among others, how salvation should be conceptualized, how sin should be dealt with, how Christians should live among non-Christians, and what role should be afforded women in the spiritual life of the church. A close reading of the prose lives reveals that Fortunatus exploited the multi-valency of religious images, concepts and symbols to provide answers to these questions within an orthodox pastoral framework. Moreover, this study shows that Fortunatus made innovative use of his narratives to intervene in his own pastoral voice. In so doing, this analysis also explores an under-appreciated side of the poet’s career, as a provider of pastoral care for a wide public.
Issue Date:2020-12-03
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/109426
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Kent E. Navalesi
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12


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