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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: March 2008

21 - From Antioch to Arles: Lay devotion in context

from Part IV - Christian Beliefs and Practices

Summary

Linked to the paucity of written sources by lay Christians, there remains the challenge of locating lay Christians in an age better known for its ascetics. Place, particularly home, church and saint's tomb, can serve as a framework for examining lay devotion. With reference to these places, this chapter investigates what practices and dispositions constituted lay devotion. It also considers how places were more than a backdrop for practices, but even moulded those practices. Built space can reveal many features of piety, such as the typical size of a gathering, how bodies moved through space, and what perceptions shaped devotions in that space. Church leaders like Athanasius of Alexandria and Caesarius of Arles recommended that Christians dedicate the forty days prior to Easter to adopting an ascetic regime of prayers, vigils, sexual abstinence, fasting, devotional reading, charity and hospitality.
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