Raumvisionen, Erinnerungsorte und Topographien des Leidens Christi in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit
Edited By Hans Aurenhammer and Daniela Bohde
The Passion in Paradise: Liturgical Devotions for Holy Week at Helfta and Paradies bei Soest
Historians of medieval art commonly encounter a frustrating paucity of sources when it comes to descriptions of what worshipers actually experienced when encountering works of art. Not that documents pertaining to works of art and architecture are scarce.1 Very often, however, what these documents, whether charters, inventories, or letters, supply are outward facts (or seeming facts) concerning chronology, patronage, and materiel. Far less often do they take us inside the hearts and minds of the medieval observer to reveal a particular point of view.
In this context, the Legatus divinae pietatis of, or better, about Gertrude of Helfta (1265–ca. 1302), the late thirteenth-century Cisterician nun, provides an invaluable and still insufficiently exploited source for what might be called a history of inner, mental space, or, to use a more modern concept, a history of subjectivity.2 Not that the Legatus can be taken as a transcript of thoughts ← 271 | 272 → and feelings.3 Quite the opposite: it presents an exemplary account of what a pious nun ought to experience over the entire course of the liturgical year, feast by feast. Although the Legatus is organized on the plan of the Divine Office, its texts make frequent reference to the Mass, during which communion often serves as the trigger for visionary experience.
Gertrude’s visions find few parallels in the visual arts. The illustrations to the Gradual (Düsseldorf, Landes- und Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. D 11) from Paradies bei Soest, dated ca. 1380, can, however, be read...
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