Article Title

Dramatic Elements in Early Monastic Induction Ceremonies


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Before the publication of O. B. Hardison's controversial Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages, it had been widely but not universally believed that the Quem quaeritis was originally composition from the monastery of St. Gall, written probably by a monk named Tuotilo (c.900) and first intended as a trope for the Easter Mass but later transferred to the end of Easter Matins. Hardison, however, argues that the trope probably originated at Limoges at the beginning of the tenth century, and suggests that its source was a "lithurgical ceremony" associated with the Easter Vigil. Hardison's conclusions have been properly challenged, particularly by William L. Smoldon, C. Clifford Flanigan, and David A. Bjork,1 but there may still be room for speculation concerning the original occasion for the Quem quaeritis: could it have been a monastic ceremony, perhaps a ceremony of initiation like the reception of a novice or his profession of vows? Such a linkage is highly unlikely; we simply do not know why the Quem quaeritis was written.2 But I would like in this paper to explore monastic ceremonies, some of which pre-date the Quem quaeritis by hundreds of years - ceremonies that demonstrate among the monks a disposition to dramatic ritual and that use themes of renewal, themes intensively pursued in the liturgical rites of Holy Week. Against such a background of monastic propensity to drama by way of rituals that stress death and resurrection motifs, it will be easier for the modern reader to appreciate how the Quem quaeritis and the Visitatio sepulchri could have grown where and when they did.

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