Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Handlyng Synne 2

Having had my enthusiasm for this text reignited by Ryan Perry’s illuminating talk last week I could not help but devote another blog entry to the most enjoyable of all the late medieval moral guides (though the prize for most disgusting image still goes to Jacob’s Well for the nose licking story!) One of the stories in Handlyng Synne involves a hallucinating priest. A priest prays to God with the troublesome query of how to know which of his parishioners were sinners. God in return gives him the ability to see the parishioners moral state in a physical way. He is then treated to a horror show of everyone of his parishioners suffering from a disgusting array of ailments. However the ONLY disease to be specifically named by the text is leprosy. God then explains what he has done to the priest explaining how the different appearances represent that person’s sin. Leprosy here represents loving goods (worldly belongings/material things) more than God. Seems a bit harsh to me as there are worse sins...although worshipping false idols is the 1st Commandment so I guess worshipping worldly things might fall under that category...People of our capitalist over-commercialised society beware you might be leprous on the inside!

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