Creating Community with Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul
Palgrave Macmillan, 2002 - 174 pages
Feasting and fasting rituals were a central facet of social interaction in early medieval Gaul. With the adoption of Christianity in the third and fourth centuries in cosmopolitan centers and in the fifth and sixth centuries in rural communities, clerics faced the challenge of guiding recent converts with little understanding of Christianity beyond the rudimentary catechism necessary for baptism. While priests condemned blatantly pagan celebrations, they could not eliminate the powerful networks sustained by food and drink rituals. Accommodation of existing rites did not, however, represent pagan survivals. Using contemporary saints' lives, canonical legislation, penitentials, theological tracts, monastic Rules and cemeterial remains, Bonnie Effros presents five essays addressing the ways in which clerical authors portrayed rites involving food and drink in their attempts to define membership in religious communities, strengthen their relationships with the laity, highlight gender differences, bring about the healing of the sick and maintain ties to deceased ancestors.
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