Choreography and Confession: The <i>Memoriale qualiter</i> and Carolingian Monasticism

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The article analyzes the Memoriale qualiter, a early ninth-century customary that was disseminated in the context of the Carolingian monastic reforms. The work is a hybrid of two texts that were written independently from each other: an outline of daily liturgical activities outside the Hours that focusses on awakening, daily confessions, meals, and going to sleep, and a sequence of short precepts based on the Regula Benedicti. The first text contains various allusions to the seventh-century Regula cuiusdam ad uirgines and documents the impact of “Columbanian” monasticism on Carolingian reform discourse. It may originally have been written for a community of nuns and turned into a reform document afterwards. The Memoriale qualiter argues that everything a member of a monastic community pertains to the opus dei and needs to be disciplined as such. This leads to a strict choreography of movements and bodily expressions, a strict discipline of one’s voice, and a procedure of permanent confession and mutual intercessory prayer – key ideas of the Regula cuiusdam ad uirgines. I compare the provisions on monastic confession in the Memoriale qualiter with other Carolingian texts on confession and show that neither the practice nor the scope and theology of confession has been unified and standardized in the Carolingian world.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMonastic Communities and Canonical Clergy in the Carolingian World. Categorizing the Church
StatePublished - Jan 2022


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