Would you like to learn to pray like a medieval Christian? In Mary and the Art of Prayer, Rachel Fulton Brown traces the history of the medieval practice of praising Mary through the complex of prayers known as the Hours of the Virgin. More than just a work of comprehensive historical scholarship, the book asks readers to immerse themselves in the experience of believing in and praying to Mary. Mary and the Art of Prayer crosses the boundaries that modern scholars typically place between observation and experience, between the world of provable facts and the world of imagination, suggesting what it would have been like for medieval Christians to encounter Mary in prayer.
Mary and the Art of Prayer opens with a history of the devotion of the Hours or “Little Office” of the Virgin. It then guides readers in the practice of saying this Office, including its invitatory (Ave Maria), antiphons, psalms, lessons, and prayers. The book works on several levels at once. It provides a new methodology for thinking about devotion and prayer; a new appreciation of the scope of and audience for the Hours of the Virgin; a new understanding of how Mary functions theologically and devotionally; and a new reading of sources not previously taken into account. A courageous and moving work, it will transform our ideas of what scholarship is and what it can accomplish.
Rachel Fulton Brown is associate professor of history at the University of Chicago. She is the author of From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800–1200 (2002) and coeditor of History in the Comic Mode: Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person (2007), both from Columbia University Press.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations List of Tables Acknowledgments Notes to the Reader Invitatory 1. The Hours of the Virgin 2. Ave Maria 3. Antiphon and Psalm 4. Lesson and Response 5. Prayer Compline: Sor María de Jesús de Ágreda and the Mystical City of God Appendix: Handlist of Manuscripts and Printed Editions of Richard of Saint-Laurent’s De laudibus beatae Mariae virginis libri XII Notes Bibliography Index of Scriptural Citations Index of Manuscripts Cited General Index