Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages was the only Christian church and seen as the only true religion. It dominated the lives of most people and was extremely powerful politically
Respond to the following discussion topic:
As you’ve learned from your readings this week, the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages was the only Christian church and seen as the only true religion. It dominated the lives of most people and was extremely powerful politically. Many men and women joined monastic orders that followed the Rule of St. Benedict, and these monasteries were the wealthiest land owners in many European countries before the time of the Reformation.
In addition to their work, monk and nuns were required to follow a strict life of prayer, stopping eight times a day to attend a service in the church. Specific types of books or manuscripts were made to serve various purposes. Large choir books were held up in church for those in monastic communities to follow, since hymnals were not used; royalty and the extremely wealthy commissioned prayer books and devotionals; and both the clerics and the lay people who could afford it, commissioned psalters, books that included the Psalms from the Old Testament. This was so important to medieval worship that some people memorized all 150 of the Psalms. The Psalms also played an important role in the ceremony found in medieval churches.
Below is one illuminated (illustrated) page from the Besparian Psalter, now in the British Museum and originally created in the 8th century.
An illustrated page from the Besparian Psalter
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vespasian_Psalter (picture of art)
Remembering the origin of the Psalms, who do you think is the main figure enthroned in the middle of the page? What is going on in this picture? How would you describe the composition of the design of this page? Why are the hands of these figures so large? Why are some figures larger than others on this page?
Listen to this recording of Psalm 138 sung in Westminster Abbey in London as you look at this manuscript page.
What do you feel? How would a page like this have enhanced your spirituality had you lived in the 8th century? Why was it important for medieval Christians to understand the Psalms and the Old Testament, and why does the singing of the Psalms continue to play an important role in the liturgy of some Christian churches?
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