W. Tanner Smoot, PhD Candidate, published his article entitled “History in liturgy: negotiating merit in Ely’s virgin mothers” in the Journal of Medieval History. Congratulations Tanner!
Below is the Abstract:
As the custodians of a particularly diverse cult of saints, the monks of Ely faced a commemorative dilemma in the in late eleventh century. The abbey’s cult centered around the virgin queen St Æthelthryth, whose incorruptible body exemplified the integrity of the monastic community. Ely’s reverence for Æthelthryth extended to her female kindred, as the monks also venerated her sisters Wihtburh and Seaxburh, alongside her niece Eormenhild. Unlike Æthelthryth, Seaxburh and Eormenhild had historical traditions of motherhood and bodily corruptibility, impelling the monks to balance their saints’ conflicting virtues in commemorative literature. This article explores the shifting merits of the Ely mothers as represented in eleventh-century liturgy and hagiography. The study begins by examining the mothers’ pre-Conquest liturgical commemoration, with a focus on their appearance in litanies and proper mass sets. It then analyses the Ely hagiography of Goscelin of Saint-Bertin, arguing that he worked to reconcile the kindreds’ virtues.