Advertisement

Neophilologus

, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 311–328 | Cite as

The Sacrament of Baptism in St. Erkenwald: The Perfect Transformation of the Trajan Legend

  • Annemarie Thijms
Article

Abstract

In this article I argue that in the late fourteenth-century poem St. Erkenwald the anonymous poet does not want to glorify the church and its sacraments, but God’s grace through the sacrament of baptism. The poet regards the baptism scene as the key issue of his work, as the whole poem points towards this climax. The poet shows that through simplicity and accidence, God creates the circumstances for a pagan judge to be saved. The role of the church has been overrated by other scholars, as it is clear that God triumphs through the baptism of the judge at the expense of the bishop Erkenwald, the representative of the church. It is clear that God is in control of the salvation. The poet has adapted the Trajan legend as was known through time, by avoiding former theological difficulties to Gregory praying like God for the salvation of Trajan and by supplying the reader with a orthodox salvation through the sacrament of baptism. The result is a perfect transformation of the Trajan legend.

Keywords

Comparative Literature Historical Linguistic Anonymous Poet Perfect Transformation Poem Point 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aquinas, Thomas. 1976Summa Theologiae. Latin text and English translation, introductions, notes, appendices and glossariesBlackfriarsLondon3a. 66, 9.Google Scholar
  2. Burrow, J.A. 1993Thinking in Poetry: Three Medieval Examples.The William Matthews Lectures at Birkbeck CollegeLondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Colgrave, Bertram. 1968The Earliest Life of Gregory the Great . By an Anonymous Monk of WhitbyUniversity of Kansas PressLawrenceGoogle Scholar
  4. Kamowski, William. 1995Saint Erkenwald and the Inadvertent Baptism: An Orthodox Response to Heterodox EcclesiologyReligion and Literature27527Google Scholar
  5. Langland, William. 1998The vision of Piers Plowman. The B-textEverymanLondonEd. A. V. C. Schmidt.Google Scholar
  6. McAlindon, T. 1970Hagiography into Art: A Study of St. ErkenwaldStudies in Philology67472494Google Scholar
  7. Morse, Ruth. 1975St. ErkenwaldBrewerCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  8. O’Loughlin, T., Conrad-O’Briain, H. 1993The ‘Baptism of Tears’ in Early Anglo-Saxon SourcesAnglo-Saxon England226589Google Scholar
  9. Gordon, E.V. 1953PearlClarendon PressOxfordGoogle Scholar
  10. Peck, Russel A. 1974Number Structure in St. ErkenwaldAnnuale Medievale1921Google Scholar
  11. Quinn, W. A. 1984A Liturgical Detail and an Alternative Reading of St. Erkenwald, Line 319Review of English Studies35335341139Google Scholar
  12. Reichardt, Paul F. ‘The Art and Meaning of the Middle English St. Erkenwald’. Ph.D. diss, Rice University, 1971.Google Scholar
  13. Peterson, Clifford. 1977St. Erkenwald.University of Pennsylvania PressPhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  14. Whatley, Gordon. 1986Heathens and Saints: St. Erkenwald in its Legendary ContextSpeculum61330363Google Scholar
  15. Wyclif, John. Tractatus de Ecclesia, Ed. Johann Loserth. London: Trübner 1886, repr. New York, 1966.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland

Personalised recommendations