Goscelin and Eve’s love was filled with Christian understanding

While serving as chaplain at Wilton Abbey in England late in the eleventh century, the learned monk Goscelin of Saint-Bertin formed a love relationship with Eve, a woman in her early teens. He was about twenty years older than she.[1] Even if old and young, male and female, two can be united in Christ. In Goscelin’s view, he and Eve were one in Christian love.

After Eve left Wilton without saying good-bye to him, Goscelin wrote a Comforting Book {Liber confortatorius}. It was as much for her as for him. He began:

O soul dearer than light, your Goscelin is with you in inseparable presence of soul. He is with you in that better part of himself with which he could love you to be one with you, such that no distance may separate you from him. He greets you in Christ with eternal greetings.

{ O luce dilectior anima, adest tibi Goscelinus tuus inseparabili anime praesentia; adest meliori parte, ea qua te diligere potuit individua, qua nulla excludant terrarum interstitia; salutat te in Christo salute sempiterna. }[2]

Goscelin ardently sought to be with Eve:

The provident mercy of God has made this consolation for us, that although far distant in place, we can be present to one another in our faith and our writings. The letter that runs between us can bind up even these torments of separation, which were owing to my crimes, and heal us. And the page, which retains words, will speak with more edification than the tongue, whose words flow away. And your love will be able to see by reading the one whom it has left in the body, and you will be able to drink in my voice and my sighing words with your eyes instead of your ears. … Consider that I am seated with you at Wilton in the presence of our lady Saint Edith or even in her chaste order, and that I speak to you, that I exhort you, that I console you, and that I pour Christ into your heart with sighs from feelings of wounded love.

{ Parauit nobis hanc consolationem prouida miseratio Domini, ut, locis elongati, fide et scriptis possimus representari. Et que meis debebantur sceleribus, hec separationis tormenta, alligare et refouere nos poterit intercurrens epistola. Loquetur etiam edificatius tenax pagina quam fluxa lingua; poterit et tua dilectio uidere lectione quem reliquit facie, et uocem et uerba nostra suspiriosa oculis pro auribus haurire. … estimato me tecum Wiltonie coram sancta domina nostra Eadgyda aut etiam in hac pudica serie residere, te alloqui, te exhortari, te consolari, anhelantibus uulnerose caritatis affectibus Christum tuo infundere pectori. }

He despaired that he would never see her again in person:

But behold, even as I was writing, my suffering, running wild, could not be concealed. My hands have fallen and my writing skills have failed. I have been overcome by wailing and lamenting.

{ Sed ecce, dum scribo, grassans dolor non potuit dissimulari; cecidere manus et usus scriptorii; rugitus et eiulatus inuasit me }

Goscelin addressed Eve as “soul sweetest to me {amina mi dulcissima}” or just “my soul {anima mi}” or “sweetest one {dulcissima}.” Goscelin didn’t love his soul Eve independently of her body. He delighted to be with her in person.

The “birth of love {partus dilectionis}” between Eve and Goscelin occurred with specific acts and material circumstances. Goscelin recounted to Eve:

I won you over with talk, but you conquered me with kindness. You gave me books that I sought, you praised my patron saint Bertin with the greatest eagerness, and you hastened to perform all the duties of love. … Frequent sheets and pages from me brought Christ to you, nor did I lack chaste letters from you. By the impatience of your love as much as my own, I used to come often for conversations with you.

{ Ego te alloquiis, tu me uicisti, beneficiis. Libros optatos dedisti, Bertinum nostrum affectuosissime extulisti, omnia caritatis officia excurristi. … Afferebant tibi Christum frequentes membrane et scedule nostre, nec tue uacabant castissime littere. Adibam creberrimus tua colloquia, tam tue quam proprie dilectionis impatientia. }

Goscelin didn’t fall in love with Eve at first sight. He knew her as just another person for some time before he loved her personally. This change occurred during Eve’s consecration at Wilton Abbey:

I was fond of you moderately and only outwardly in the good hope of Christ. When among fourteen young women, with candles shining like stars and heavenly torches, you truly approached your marriage with God nervously and second to last, and with the thronging crowd waiting with solemn expectancy, you then put on the pledge of divine faith with your holy clothes. I was struck more deeply in my heart by your humble habit, your trembling approach, and your face, blushing as if from the fiery throne of God sitting above the cherubim, wisely anxious. This act occurred along with its wedding song of admirable grace, “I am betrothed to the one whom angels serve, and he has taken me as a bride with his ring,” I was touched with heavenly dew, and I wept with an overflowing fervor.

{ te tolerabiliter forinsecus tantum in spe bona Christi dilexi. Vbi uero inter quattuordecim uirgines, coruscantibus cereis tanquam syderibus et lampadibus supernis, ad dominicas nuptias trepida et penultima accessisti ac, populosa caterua sollemniter expectante, pignus fidei diuine cum sacrata ueste induisti, ille humilis habitus, ille tremebundus accessus, ille suffusus uultus, tanquam ab igneo throno Dei sedentis super cherubim, sapienter metuentis, altius uiscera me percussere cum hoc epithalamico carmine admirabilis gratie: “Ipsi sum desponsata, cui angeli seruiunt, et annulo suo subarrauit me.” Tactus sum rore celesti et feruore irriguo fleui. }[3]

Shown in her act of consecration, Eve’s love for God apparently inspired Goscelin. He sought to love her as God loves her.

nun confessing to a monk

Goscelin didn’t regard himself as spiritually superior to Eve. He regarded her as a living saint. He sought to be with her in spirit:

I entreat you, bring it about that although I now lament having lost someone, as if she were the delight of life, I shall rejoice at some time to have found her again, as one who intervenes for me, since the Lord is able to make out of our losses a profit of greater value. May I now have a patron in place of a daughter, a patron of whose prior claim I am as unworthy as I am unequal to her in life. Therefore, by this faith, this hope, this love, let me be commended to your love after my complaint of your departure. Let me be admitted and received. Look upon me sitting with you and hear me talking with you.

{ Age, obsecro, ut quam nunc plango quasi uite iocunditatem purdidisse, aliquando gaudeam interuentricem reperisse, ualente Domino de damnis nostris melius fructificare. Sit mihi iam patrona pro filia, cuius tam indignus sum prerogatiua, quam impar uita. Hac ergo fide, hac spe, hac caritate, dilectioni tue post querelam discessionis commendatum, admissum, susceptum, respice tecum assidentem, ausculta tecum sermocinantem. }

With realistic understanding of human temptation to sin, Goscelin imagined what it would be like to be with Eve in Heaven:

The gathering together of young men and virgins, men and women, the married and the celibate, will be as perfect and inoffensive as it is holy and blessed in their celibacy. It will be exempt from all desire for corruption, free from all contagion of sin. The Lord says through the prophet, “the young man shall dwell with the virgin.” Young men and virgins, and old men with younger ones, will praise the name of the Lord alone, for the Lord alone will be exalted on that day. He will be the sole king of all. The thoughts and hearts of all will be clear to all. Then everyone will speak their secret thoughts, and God will unlock hearts to the light, and they will speak and answer very sweet pledges of affection to one another. No cloud of wicked thought will come between them, because all temptations to stumble and offend will have been submerged in Hell. So it is necessary for us to live now with the sort of purity in which we wish to appear there before the whole majesty of Heaven and earth.

{ Magna angelorum et uirginum concinnitas, inseparabilis societas, inestimabilis caritas, inenarrabilis amplexuum et osculorum sanctorum sanctitas. Iuuenum et uirginum, uirorum et uiraginum, nuptorum et celibum, tam perfecta et inoffensa copula, quam sancta celebs et beata, quam omni corruptionis appetitu exempta, omni contagione peccati libera. Habitabit iuuenis cum uirgine, dicit Dominus per prophetam, et iuuenes et uirgines, senes cum iunioribus laudabunt nomen Domini solius, quia exaltabitur Dominus solus in die illa, et unicus rex erit uniuersorum. Clara omnibus erunt omnium cogitationes et zorda. Tunc quisque loquetur secreta, atque Deus reserabit pectora luci, et inuicem loquentur ac respondebunt dulcissima affectuum pignora, nec ullius inique cogitationis, omnibus scandalis et offendiculis stygyo demersis, intercurret nebula. Vnde tali sinceritate nos oportet modo uiuere, quales ibi coram uniuersa maiestate celi et terre uolumus apparere. }

Goscelin’s lengthy letter to Eve, his Liber confortatorius, materially represents his wish to be with her. He explained:

Now if by chance you ask anything about one who is so devoted, he is the same absent as he was present. His mind and face are the same, so too his vigor and bodily constitution, his purity of faith and devotion, the force and fervor of his love are all the same, but his pain is sharper for being more lonely, and the sighs of his longings are heavier for being more distant. If he lasts until he has gray hair and into old age and feebleness, he will then persevere in the same integrity with the assistance of the Lord. But if ever a thought returns to you and it asks thus, “What is he, who was once dear to me, doing now?” this page will always respond with this one verb in the active rather than the passive voice: he sighs. And whenever you seek him, you will find him here. You will either see him or hear him whispering with you here in this book.

{ Iam si quid forte, si quid de tam deuoto requires, idem est absens quod erat presens, mens et facies, uigor et habitude eadem, ea puritas fidei et deuotionis, ea uis et feruor dilectionis, dolor uero eo acrior quo destitutior ac desideriorum suspiria eo grauiora quo delatiora. Tum si ad canos et in senectam et senium durauerit, elusdem sinceritatis Domino aspirante perseuerabit. Si quando autem reuersa ad te congitatio ita interrogauerit, “ille quondam carus quid nunc facit?” hec semper pagina hoc uno uerbo actiuo pro passiuo respondebit: Suspirat. Ubicumque illum queres, hic inuenies, hic tecum susurrantem uel uidebis uel audies. }[4]

Christian love rejects vengeance for being wounded in love. Eve wounded Goscelin by, without telling him, leaving England to become an anchoress at Saint-Laurent du Tertre in Angers in present-day western France. The wounded Goscelin ended his Liber confortatorius with an expression of his Christian love for Eve:

So may you have all the desires of your soul.

{ Sic habeas anime cuncta cupita tue. }

This prayer for Eve’s desires to be fulfilled shouldn’t be seen as a problem to be explained, or a suspicious indicator of sexual desire.[5] Medieval Christian love was passionate. Goscelin passionately desired to be with Eve in person. The frigidity of modern Western Christianity, as well as modern sexual relations, would probably seem strange to medieval Christians.

Glimmers of modern “sex without sex” in earthly human relations, or put differently, the work of love in the age of mechanical reproduction, appear as early as the fourteenth century. Consider this poem from no later than the second half of the twelfth century:

Greetings, image of the sun and of all light!
Like a flower amid laurel, like crystal in gold,
so you alone cast bright light in a crowd of women.
Sun surpasses moon, and you surpass woman’s form.
Indeed your appearance inflames my heart
so in love for you, that I care to attend to nothing
beyond you alone, (missing hemistich)
In body now I’m not with you, yet with my senses I ardently am.
Even in the hour of eating I often don’t turn from remembering you.
When I contemplate life I shall silently say this:
“Ah! If only this moment we had a place for love!”
Desiring I will rejoice. For what cannot be, I grieve.

{ Instar solis, ave! tocius luminis atque
Ut flos cum lauro, sicut christallus in auro,
Sic luces forte mulierum sola cohorte.
Sol superat lunam, mulierum tuque figuram.
Hinc tuus aspectus succendit denique pectus
Sic in amore tuo, quod nil intendere curo
Preter te solam, (missing hemistich)
Corpore nunc absum, tibi sensu sedulus assum;
Non vetat hora cibi me sepe tui reminisci.
Hoc tacitus dicam quando considero vitam:
“Eia! si nobis iam iam locus esset amoris!”
Optans gaudebo, per quod nequit esse dolebo. }[6]

In medieval thought, eating was understood as a pleasure like having sex. The reference to sensual presence, in conjunction with yearning for a specific place for love, indicates that this is a love poem centrally concerned with sexual desire.

In the fourteenth century, the sexual desire expressed in this poem was moved to Heaven. A fourteenth-century hand added to the manuscript the title “To Mary the mother of God {Ad dei genitricem Mariam}.” This hand effaced the second hemistich of verse 7 and added there, “you after Christ the father’s wisdom {post Christum patris Sophiam}.” Re-characterizing the bodily sense and place for love in verses 8 and 11, the hand added next to these verses identical marginal notes: “namely, in Heaven {scilicet in celo}.”[7] This crude re-writer thus deferred sensuality to Heaven. That was one step toward the modern tendency to eliminate the male gaze, the female gaze, and passionate sexual desire.

In medieval Christian understanding, Jesus was almighty God incarnate as an ordinary, fully masculine man. His mother Mary gave birth to him in the same way that any woman would give birth to a child. While Mary was merely a human being, not a goddess like tradition Greco-Roman goddesses, Christians hyper-venerated Mary in lavish, sensuous shrines all across medieval Europe. Love for God and love for a human being like oneself were one in Christ in medieval Christianity, just as they are one in Goscelin’s Liber confortatorius.[8]

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[1] Goscelin of Saint-Bertin, a prolific writer of Anglo-Saxon saints’ lives, was born about 1035 or 1040, probably in Flanders. Rossum (1999) p. 8 (c. 1035); Bugyis (2019) p. 3 (c. 1040). He was an oblate at the monastery of Saint-Bertin at Saint-Omer in Flanders. That monastery had cultural links with England. Goscelin came to England c. 1059 to join the household of Bishop Hereman / Herman at the Sherborne Abbey in Dorset, about 35 miles from Wilton. About 1071, Bishop Herman and Goscelin moved to Old Sarum, about 3 miles from Wilton. Stroud (2006) pp. 205-6. When Bishop Herman died in 1078, Osmund became the new bishop. Conflict between Bishop Osmund and Goscelin led to Osmund expelling Goscelin from Old Sarum about 1079. Goscelin probably completely his Liber confortatorius about 1081. On Goscelin’s biography, Rossum (1999) pp. 8-12, and Rand (2013) pp. 14-20.

Since the Benedictine Wilton Abbey was a royal favorite and the wealthiest convent in England, Eve evidently came from a privileged family. O’Keeffe (2006) p. 251. With respect to Eve, Goscelin stated, “from a Danish father and a Lotharingian mother an English daughter grew of that noble birth {patre Dano et matre Lotariniga a claris natalibus filiam emersisse Anglicam}.” Liber confortatorius, Latin text from Talbot (1955) p. 41, English translation (modified) from Barnes & Hayward (2004) p. 117. Eve was born about 1060. Goscelin probably got to know Eve at Wilton Abbey in the early 1070s. Stroud (2006). Recent work convincingly argues that Goscelin described Eve’s consecration, not her oblation. O’Keeffe (2006). That perhaps occurred about 1075. Eve probably left for Angers about 1080. Stroud (2006) p. 211.

[2] Goscelin of Saint-Bertin, Comforting Book {Liber confortatorius}, Latin text from Talbot (1955) p. 27, English translation (modified slightly) from Barnes & Hayward (2004) p. 101. All subsequent quotes from Liber confortatorius are similarly sourced. Since Talbot’s text is the only printed text, citations will be identified with a number specifying the page in Talbot’s text. That’s the established citation form in scholarship on Liber confortatorius.

Liber confortatorius, which Goscelin wrote about 1081, survives in only one manuscript: British Library, MS Sloane 3103, folios 1-114. The British Library dates this manuscript to the first half of the twelfth century. Sloane 3103 apparently was written in northwestern France, probably Normandy. In the thirteenth century it belonged to the Abbey of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte in the Coutances diocese of Normandy. It’s not known whether Eve received the Liber confortatorius. Goscelin’s contemporaries and later generations make no reference to it. Hollis (2004) pp. 236-7.

Barnes & Hayward (2004) includes in an appendix about 100 corrections to Talbot’s edition and 38 emendations to the text of Talbot / Sloane 3103. Id. is thus important in providing the best Latin text of Liber confortatorius.

Here’s a mean-spirited review of Liber confortatorius. Here’s textual evidence of continued interest in Liber confortatorius among current men and women religious.

Subsequent quotes above from Liber confortatorius are, specified by page number in Talbot (1955), 27 (The provident mercy of God has made this consolation for us…), 27 (But behold, even as I was writing…), 28 (I won you over with talk…), 28 (I was fond of you moderately …), 34 (I entreat you, bring it about…), 115-6 (The gathering together of young men and virgins…), 45 (Now if by chance you ask anything…), 117 (So may you have all the desires of your soul.).

[3] Scholarship on Liber confortatorius, following André Wilmart’s pioneering studies in the 1930s, has assumed that this ritual was Eve’s oblation. O’Keeffe (2006) and Stroud (2006) argue convincingly that this ritual was actually Eve’s consecration as a nun. This better understanding implies that Eve was about ten years older in the relational chronology with Goscelin than has been commonly thought.

[4] Goscelin’s passionate expression of love for Eve isn’t unusual within the medieval tradition of letters among close friends. Anselm of Canterbury (lived c. 1033 to 1109) was similarly passionate in expression:

as a monk, he wrote to his fellow Bec students in the passionate rhetoric of physical, sexual love, speaking of kissing and embracing his friends, holding them, longing for their physical presence in their absence, and indeed often as soul mates united into one soul. … Anselm wrote passionate letters also to his lay friends, suggesting that this passionate language of love was not exclusive to the Bec community. … he also enjoyed close friendships with women, to whom he also wrote in emotionally intense and sometimes physical language. …. Anselm enjoyed almost parallel spiritual friendships with his closest monastic and episcopal friend, Gundulf of Rochester, and his neighbor and close spiritual friend, Countess Ida of Boulogne, whom he addressed with equal emotionally intense and loving language.

Vaughn (2010) pp. 56, 58. On the relationship between medieval spiritual directors and anchoresses, Erkoç (2010).

[5] Sex is fundamentally important to women and men. As a healthy man, Goscelin probably had feelings of sexual desire for Eve. Men and women throughout the ages have felt sexual desires. Such desires don’t necessarily control their actions. Of course, persons might find themselves led into temptation, and they sometimes engage in illicit sexual activity. Goscelin himself cautioned readers:

Let far from our pure whispering be hissing calumny, the wicked eye, the sly finger, the impure gossip-monger and cackler. … But whatever happens, I have preferred to be made an object of mockery by the superciliousness of strangers than to neglect what is owed to dearness.

{ Absint a puro susurrio sibilantes insidiae, nequam oculus, uafer digitus, uentilator et cachinnator impurus. … Quicquid tamen euenerit, maluimus alieno supercilio infatuari quam non satis facere caritati. }

Liber confortatorius 26.

Modern scholars have speculated about whether Eve and Goscelin ever had a sexual relationship. Liber confortatorius isn’t well-characterized in the language of modern romance novels: “an account of a deep, desperate, only half sublimated love between a man and a woman in religious orders.” Otter (2004) p. 1. Otter subsequent reported that Liber confortatorius provides “sometimes disconcerting glimpses of more than just spiritual attachment.” Otter (2008) p. 283. An alternate view is that Eve and Goscelin’s relationship was “spiritual, not romantic.” It was “not sexual,” taken to mean it didn’t involve “sinister activity.” Canatella (2010) pp. 37, 36. For a review of earlier literature on the nature of the relationship between Eve and Goscelin, Hayward (2004). One scholar aptly observed:

Modern sensibilities cannot easily deal with literature such as the Liber Confortatorius of Goscelin de St. Bertin. When we read it at all, we often read it anachronistically, importing into its pages notions of romantic entanglements between men and women, teachers and pupils, or (most deliciously for contemporary sensibilities) between monks and nuns. In Goscelin’s case, however, our problem is intensified by the somewhat embarrassing spectacle of a learned and respected monk, an esteemed hagiographer, and a well-known prose stylist apparently falling to pieces over an English nun whom he had known since she was a child oblate and who had fled to the continent to live as a recluse — probably (we want to believe) to get away from Goscelin. It all seems worthy of a television soap opera.

Williams (2000) p. 1. Recent scholarship has shown that Goscelin probably didn’t know Eve “since she was a child oblate.” O’Keeffe (2006), Stroud (2006). The claim that “we want to believe” that Eve sought to get away from Goscelin testifies to anti-meninism among medieval scholars.

After leaving Wilton Abbey, Eve eventually became an anchorite at the church of Saint-Eutrope in present-day southwestern France. There she became the living companion of the anchorite Hervé of Vendôme (Herveus). In a poem honoring Eve, Hilary of Orléans wrote about her at Saint-Eutrope:

Eve had lived there for a long time with Hervé her companion —
anyone who hears these things that I say should not feel disturbed.
Brother, do not be mistrustful or shun this:
not in the word, but in Christ was their love.

{ Ibi vixit Eve diu cum Herveo socio —
Qui hec audis, ad hanc vocum te turbari sencio.
Fuge, frater, suspicari nec sit hic suspicio:
Non in mundo, sed in Christo fuit hec dilectio. }

Latin text and English translation from Canatella (2010) p. 43. Eve apparently enjoyed companionship with men. Moreover, Eve inspired men to do the work of writing about her, even though she apparently didn’t make the effort to write about them. Meninist scholars are only beginning to explore medieval men’s consciousness of their gender burden of writing about women. On Eve’s relationship with Hervé of Vendôme, Maude (2015).

[6] Poem from München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 19411 (description), folio 70v, written in the second half of the twelfth century, Latin text from Dronke (1965) vol. 2, p. 518, English translation (modified) from id. This manuscript also includes love letters from the Benedictine abbey at Tegernsee. Verses 1-4 and 8 of this poem survive in another manuscript written c. 1200: Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, MS C 58/275. Id. p. 519.

The January 2010 (vol. 19, no. 1) special issue of the Journal of the History of Sexuality is entitled “Desire and Eroticism in Medieval Europe, Eleventh to Fifteenth Centuries: Sex Without Sex.” Sex without sex apparently includes the “real sexuality” of “imagined sexual relationships.” Scholarly articles in this special issue:

explore a middle ground in which some bishops and monks skirted the religious laws to experience real sexuality — often through imagined sexual relationships, friendships, and theoretical meditions — and how some women expressed their sexuality even in nunneries, hermitages, and other religious institutions. What is striking — indeed paradoxical — about all these expressions of sexuality by pious women is that for the most part the eroticism inherent in all of these erotic expressions consisted of forms of “sex without sex.”

Vaughn & Christoforatou (2010) p. 1. The concept “sex without sex” is inconceivable to the more clear-thinking medieval mind. In medieval thinking, sex was the culmination a set of specific stages of physical intimacy. On medieval stages of love, see note [1] in my post on Baucis et Traso. Medieval persons experienced joy in sex. Sex to them was behavior that God intended from the creation of humans. In medieval thinking, love, unlike sex, encompasses all aspects of life, and love is far more important than sex.

[7] These textual notes are from Dronke (1965) vol. 2, p. 519, with my translation of the Latin phrases. Dronke commented:

By adding a pious title, deleting and rewriting only one half-line, and supplying two crude marginal glosses, the censor has ‘spiritualized’ the poem. Sacred or profane, the language of love can at times remain virtually a constant.

Id. Medieval “secular {saecularis}” understanding didn’t fundamentally categorize expression as “sacred or profane.” Blasphemy (profanity), which was the medieval scope of the profane, was a narrow, not sternly policed type of expression in medieval understanding.

[8] Modern scholarship has constructed elaborate schemes to explain the medieval relation between sacred and “profane” love. Commenting on Guido Guinizelli’s laughable love poem, “Love always repairs to the noble heart {Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore},” Dronke put forth mystical, noetic, and sapiential scholarly intricacies. For example:

Implicitly then, through the very need of communication, human and divine love are here in a sense reconciled. Yet this kind of reconciliation of course entails its own opposite: for here the perception and affirmation in each metaphor of an analogy between the two experiences is continually completed by an awareness of their difference. Each reconciliation in a likeness must entail a complementary unlikeness — otherwise we should be dealing not with likeness but with identities. The orthodox Christian scheme of values could not envisage such an identity between divine and human love: the one was an absolute value, the other a relative one, at best imperfect, at worst evil.

Dronke (1965) vol. 1, pp. 58-9. To such scholastic reasoning, a fool might cry out, “the love of Jesus Christ, God incarnate as a male human being.” The priestly Dronke, a proponent of men-abasing courtly love, declared, “the more deeply religious the language, the closer it is to the language of courtoisie.” Id. p. 62. The fool responds, “Humans are made of mud. You are dust!”

While claiming women’s natural moral superiority to men, Jaeger constructed a literary history transforming “ennobling love” into men-abasing courtly love. Jaeger pondered a puzzle he created about love:

How can it claim virtue, while admitting virtue’s old enemy, the sexual act, as the natural end of love and full partner in the exalting process?

Jaeger (1999) p. 159. That puzzle isn’t worth pondering. In fact, men are intrinsically virtuous, properly understood as manly. The sexual act isn’t “virtue’s old enemy.” The sexual act can be vitally important healthcare for men. A man’s penis is a the center of his earthly being. Consider instead: how does the generation of vipers end?

[image] Nun confessing to a monk. Illumination from a treatise about the love of God. Folio 29r (excerpt) from British Library, Yates Thompson MS 11.


Barnes, W. R. and Rebecca Hayward, trans. 2004. “Goscelin’s Liber confortatorius.” Part 2 (pp. 97-216) in Hollis (2004).

Bugyis, Katie Ann-Marie. 2019. The Care of Nuns: The Ministries of Benedictine Women in England during the Central Middle Ages. New York, NY : Oxford University Press.

Canatella, H. M. 2010. “Long-Distance Love: The Ideology of Male-Female Spiritual Friendship in Goscelin of Saint Bertin’s Liber confortatorius.” Journal of the History of Sexuality. 19 (1): 35-53.

Dronke, Peter. 1965. Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love-Lyric. 2 vols. Vol. 1Vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Erkoç, Seda. 2010. “‘To one shut in from one shut out’: An Evaluation of the Spiritual Friendship between Anchoresses and their Spiritual Directors.” Studies in Spirituality. 20: 161-189.

Hayward, Rebecca. 2004. “Spiritual Friendship and Gender Difference in the Liber confortatorius.” Pp. 341-353 in Hollis (2004).

Hollis, Stephanie, ed. 2004. Writing the Wilton Women: Goscelin’s Legend of Edith and Liber confortatorius. Turnhout: Brepols.

Jaeger, C. Stephen. 1999. Ennobling Love: in search of a lost sensibility. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Maude, Kathryn. 2015. ‘“She fled from the uproar of the world”: Eve of Wilton and the Rhetorics of Solitude.’ Magistra. 21(1): 36-50.

O’Keeffe, Katherine O’Brien. 2006. “Goscelin and the consecration of Eve.” Anglo-Saxon England. 35: 251-270.

Otter, Monika, trans. 2004. Goscelin of St. Bertin: the Book of encouragement and consolation (Liber confortatorius): the letter of Goscelin to the recluse Eva. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.

Otter, Monika. 2008. “Entrances and Exits: Performing the Psalms in Goscelin’s Liber confortatorius.” Speculum. 83 (2): 283-302.

Rand, Tamara S. 2013. “And if Men Might also Imitate her Virtues” An Examination of Goscelin of Saint-Bertin’s Hagiographies of the Female Saints of Ely and Their Role in the Creation of Historic Memory. Doctoral dissertation, University of Akron, OH. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center.

Rossum, Irene van. 1999. Adest meliori parte: a portrait of monastic friendship in exile in Goscelin’s Liber confortatorius. PhD thesis, University of York, UK.

Stroud, Daphne. 2006. “Eve of Wilton and Goscelin of St Bertin at Old Sarum c. 1070–1078.” Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine. 99: 204–12.

Talbot, C. H, ed. 1955. “The Liber Confortatorius of Goscelin of Saint Bertin.” Pp. 1-117 in M. M. Lebreton, J. Leclercq, C. H. Talbot, eds. Analecta Monastica: Textes et études sur la vie des moines au moyen age. 3rd series. Studia Anselmiana, 37. Rome: Herder.

Vaughn, Sally N. 2010. “Saint Anselm and His Students Writing about Love: A Theological Foundation for the Rise of Romantic Love in Europe.” Journal of the History of Sexuality. 19 (1): 54-73.

Vaughn, Sally N. and Christina Christoforatou. 2010. “Introduction to Special Issue: Desire and Eroticism in Medieval Europe, Eleventh to Fifteenth Centuries: Sex Without Sex.” Journal of the History of Sexuality. 19(1): 1-16.

Williams, Mark F. 2000. “Monastery Love or Just a Friendship? Reading the Liber Confortatorius of Goscelin of St. Bertin.” Lecture at the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University and Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota.

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