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Cloud of Unknowing

(304 words)

Author(s): Fichte, Jörg O.
[German Version] (c. last quarter of the 14th cent.) is the first English formulation of the via negativa. Divided into 75 chapters, this epistolary treatise stands in the Pseudo-Dionysian Latin tradition of Johannes Sarracenus and Thomas Gallus, but is also indebted to the affective mysticism of Augustine and the doctrine of grace of Thomas Aquinas. In order to be at all able ¶ to achieve the unio in the caligo ignorantiae with God's grace, it is necessary to thrust with “a sharp spear of desirous love” (12:16, p. 21) into the separating cloud of un…

Alfred the Great

(177 words)

Author(s): Fichte, Jörg O.
[German Version] (849 – 899). In 871, Alfredbecame king of Wessex, leading the Anglo-Saxons in battle against the Danes. In 886, he signed a treaty with Guthrum, who recognized Alfred's sovereignty over England south of the Humber (with the exception of Essex, East Anglia, and the east midlands). To carry out his extensive educational program, Alfred assembled a group of renowned scholars. He himself translated or saw to the translation of the following works, which he considered fundamental: The Regula [or: Cura] Pastoralis and Dialogi of Gregory the Great, the De Consolatione …

Egbert of York

(134 words)

Author(s): Fichte, Jörg O.
[German Version] (died 766) belonged to the Northumbrian royal family and was a reforming archbishop of York (from 735 an archdiocese once again) who ¶ endeavored to abolish abuses in church administration and pastoral care. He founded the famous cathedral school in which he taught theology himself – Alcuin was one of his students. The numerous writings attributed to him include the canon collection Excerptiones e dictis et canonibus SS. Patrum (transmitted from dates in the 11th cent.), the Dialogus ecclesiasticae institutionis, a collection of canon law decisions, the Poenitential…


(152 words)

Author(s): Fichte, Jörg O.
[German Version] (c. 955–1020) was the son of a West Saxon aristocratic family; as a Benedict, he was educated in Winchester under St. Aethelwold; from 1005, he was abbot of Eynsham near Oxford. Because of his literary activity, Aelfric became one of the foremost personalities in the Benedictine reform movement in England. Especially important are his many vernacular sermons (two collections of Sermones Catholici and a collection of legends of the saints) and translations (including Bede's De temporibus anni and the first seven books of the OT)…

Egbert, Saint

(121 words)

Author(s): Fichte, Jörg O.
[German Version] (Ecgberht; died 729) was a Northumbrian monk from the monastery at Lindisfarne who voluntarily exiled himself to Ireland in order to attain spiritual perfection. From there, he prepared the missions of Wigbert to Frisia and of Willibrord to Germany. From 716 on, he lived on Iona, where he enforced the Roman calculation for the date for Easter and imposed the Roman tonsure on the monks. His feast day is April 24. Jörg O. Fichte Bibliography Beda, Historia Ecclesiastica, ed. C. Plummer, 1896, 3.4; 4.3; 5.9–10 W. Levison, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century, 1946 M.…

Aldhelm (Saint)

(182 words)

Author(s): Fichte, Jörg O.
[German Version] (c. 639–709). Aldhelm was of noble birth with family ties to the royal house of Wessex. He was educated initially at the abbey of Malmesbury by Iren Maíldub, later at Canterbury by the Roman and Anglo-Saxon Benedictines under Theodore and Hadrian. Aldhelm was a champion of Roman Catholic Christianity (672 letters to king …

Bede, the Venerable, Saint

(221 words)

Author(s): Fichte, Jörg O.
[German Version] (c. 672–735) entered the monastery of Wearmouth at the age of seven where he was educated by Benedict Biscop. Around 686, he moved to Jarrow, a new foundation, which inherited the substantial library of Benedict Biscop after his death in 689. This library became the basis of Bede's writings in every field of knowledge. He is the outstanding representative of the Northumbrian renaissance and one of the most important scholars of the early Middle Ages. His writings cover a broad spectrum, from school textbooks ( De arte metrica, De schematibus et tropis sacrae …

Edmund, Saint

(142 words)

Author(s): Fichte, Jörg O.
[German Version] (Eadmund; 840–869), king of East Anglia, was slain in 869 by the Vikings after refusing to share his kingdom with the pagan conqueror Inguar. Before he was beheaded, his body, like that of St. Sebastian, was riddled with arrows. He was already being revered as a martyr shortly after his death, and in the 10th century his remains were translated to Bury St. Edmunds, whose abbey then became a pilgrimage site. Feast day, Nov 20. Jörg O. Fichte Bibliography T. Arnold, Memorials of St. Edmund's Abbey, vol. I, 1890, 3–209 F. Hervey, ed., The History of King Edmund the …