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Document Details :

Title: Both in the World and of It
Subtitle: Affectivity, Corporeality and Cistercian Conversi in Thirteenth-Century Liège
Author(s): MORE, Alison
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 23    Date: 2013   
Pages: 61-79
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.23.0.3007313

Abstract :
While medievalists generally acknowledge the rich diversity in the spiritual climate of the high and later Middle Ages, the role of the ‘lay brother’ is seldom considered part of this spiritual garden. Lay brothers (or ‘conversi’) were neither monks nor clerics, but still held an important – and increasingly visible – role in the monastic community from the eleventh century onwards. While their economic contributions, particularly to the Cistercian order, have been recognised, their spiritual practices are virtually ignored. Rather than simply a labour force, the option of the living as a conversus, much like the semi-religious vocations of the same period, would have allowed men to incorporate monastic devotion into their lives without entirely giving up worldly activity. By focusing on lay brothers (or conversi) associated with the Cistercian house of Villers in the diocese of Liège, this article both draws attention to the lay brotherhood as a form of religious life and considers the role it played in the wider community.

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