Panel I. Interpretation and Context


Martin Lešák

Monasteries on the Horizon: Sacral Landscape Through the Senses of Medieval Pilgrims

“And when one watches from a distance, there is nothing else to see but a tower of beautiful dimensions or rather beautiful appearance. But, two times during a day, the receding sea offers the yearned-for way to the pious people who are heading towards the sanctuary of the blessed archangel Michael.”[1]

Medieval monastery churches in today’s France (e.g. Vézelay, Mont-Saint-Michel, Bourges etc.) very often dominate their surroundings, their silhouettes on the horizon harmoniously complete the image of a natural landscape in which they are settled and intensely catch the eyes of present (and very probably also medieval) pilgrims.

Through the analysis of historical sources, the suggested paper focuses on the first encounter of a medieval traveller with such a prominent landmark – in other words, on the encounter from a “certain distance”. Consequently, the following questions would arise: How was a monastery church in the landscape (but also the sound of bells arriving from bell towers) perceived in Middle Ages? How could this first sensory experience, and the expectations which it evokes, shape the following, much closer, meeting with the object? A figure of a pilgrim can be, when dealing with these topics, understood as one of the possible embodiments of the concept of a “cultural transfer“.

To answer the above-mentioned questions, we will be reflecting on the social or economic importance of medieval churches. We will also be dealing with their practical function as necessary landmarks which linked the international network of pilgrim (and other) roads. This paper will furthermore try to consider these issues from the perspective of the connection between natural landscape (cultivated or uncultivated) and sacral buildings. It will be based on the presumption that only through the comprehension of the natural landscapesurrounding the sacral building it is possible to arrive to the understanding of what the building meant to a medieval pilgrim. The landscape and a pilgrim thus become the binding components between medieval monasteries.

Jana Králová

Monastery Translation from the Contemporary Point of View

Studying the translations, dictionaries, and other works of Spanish missionaries is important not only because of their translation practice but also as a source of inspiration for research in other cultural fields. From the point of view of the contemporary traductology there is a handful of “new” topics; e. g. the problem of sources of the work of the translator / interpreter, institutional translation, intersemiotical translation, problem of gender etc.

La importancia de la investigación de las traducciones, obras lexicográficas y escritos en lengua extranjera de los religiosos españoles resulta importante no sólo en su aspecto material,  sino también en la fuerza inspiradora para las investigaciones orientadas a otras áreas culturales. Desde el punto de vista de la traductología actual podemos observar la presencia de varios temas “nuevos”:  el estudio del punto de partida del trabajo del traductor / intérprete, la traducción institucional, la traducción y género. 

Jan Tesárek and Barbora Spalová

Other time: Construction of Temporality in Benedictine Monasteries

The aim of this analysis is to show how monasteries construct and produce a specific dimension of institutional temporality. Many authors (Mumford 1947; Holl, Treiber, Steiner 1980; Zerubavel 1980, Foucault 1975) view Benedictine monastic tradition as a source of modern disciplined time. However, today Benedictine monasteries serve much more as a harbor of alternatively perceived temporality rather than as a centre of Western modernization. As it was shown by our field research in the Czech and Austrian monasteries, different time is lived and produced by monks, nuns, and visitors of monasteries on two levels. First of them is the embodied discourse of Benedictine spiritual tradition which allows (re)producing monastic temporality through texts, teaching, living bodies, or even through the architecture of monasteries. Important techniques of reproducing such a specific institutional temporality include praxis of space distinction, periodicity of time done by the Divine Office, by eschatological framing and through enacting of a long-term monastic tradition. Second level is specific praxis of legitimization which advocates the right of Benedictine monasteries to exist in the so-called secular Czech society. Such use of temporality is allowed by specific commodification of monastic temporality. Paying and non-paying visitors are invited to the monastery to share “different time”. We argue that this is not a source of income but, more importantly, it is a strategy to legitimize function of Benedictine monastery in contemporary society. 

Panel II. Monastic Networks: Technology and Society

Barnabás Szekér

Whose Instructions? – Educational Orders, Administration, and Rules of Higher Schools in the 18th Century Kingdom of Hungary

In 1762 Christoph Anton von Migazzi opened a Convictus pauperum nobilium in his smaller diocesan town, Vác (Waitzen, Hungary) and he put the task of teaching and education of the young Hungarian noblemen into the hands of the Piarist Order. Nevertheless, the making or compiling of the institution’s rules was not within the competence of the Piarists; the bishop wrote them himself.

Migazzi’s Convictus was not an exception in the Habsburg Monarchy of the time; the first wave of educational reforms in the Habsburg lands was characterised by founding and reshaping institutions mostly in the higher, over-secondary level of education. On the one hand, there was the university reform in the 1750’s; on the other hand,also the establishment of noble academies, colleges, and convicts at first in Vienna (Collegium Theresianum, Savoyan Academy etc.), and later also in less central parts of the Monarchy, among them in the Kingdom of Hungary. There was a small group of members of the royal administration, bishops, and other aristocrats, who made prescriptions concerning the curricula and the methods of education (confirmed by royal rights or by the right of the founder), and also trusted religious orders with their execution, who had their own educational tradition and in some cases had lead the respective schools (e.g. the University in Trnava) for more than a century.

In my presentation I would like to examine this process closer. Which role did teaching orders play in the government of these institutions? How much did they have to transmit new values and new knowledge compared to their former tradition? Can we trace whether they perceived it as a conflict or whether they deliberately cooperated?

I focus my research on three institutions to find answers to these questions: the royally reformed and refounded convict at the University in Trnava (Nagyszombat/Tyrnau, Slovakia), the Convictus pauperum nobilium in Vác, and the Collegium Regium Oeconomicum in Senec (Szenc/Wartberg, Slovakia).

Katalin Pataki

The Monasteries as Mediators of Medical Knowledge – Camaldolese Pharmacies of the Hungarian Kingdom and Austria

The paper investigates medical training and practice of lay brothers who were in charge of the infirmaries of their houses in the Austrian-Hungarian province of the Monte Corona congregation of the Camaldolese Order in the second half of the eighteenth century. The very fragmented preserved archival sources reveal very little about the careers of individual monks and their medical activity. Consequently, my main sources are the documents that inform about the spatial and material culture of the monasteries. The abolition of the Camaldolese Order in 1782 stopped the operation of the monasteries, but the files of the dissolution procedure can still inform us about the equipment of their infirmaries and, in an indirect way, about the medical practices that took place there. Additionally, the ground plans of the monasteries reveal a very systematic building program in which the arrangement of the infirmary followed more or less uniform patterns in each monastery. Based on these sources, the first half of the paper presents the infirmaries as a set of functionally well-differentiated spaces: they had rooms for providing daily medical and spiritual care for the seriously ill and old monks and they also served as a place dedicated to surgical treatments (e.g. blood letting) and pharmaceutical activities (including both production and storage of medicaments). The room of a surgeon-apothecary lay brother was usually also part of the infirmary. The thorough investigation of the personal objects, equipment, and books he could use also allows us to draw some conclusions regarding their education and medical knowledge.

After the reconstruction of the inner setting, the second half of my paper focuses on the activity of the apothecary-surgeon monks outside their monasteries with the help of a uniquely rich source: the herbal book of brother Cyprian from Červený Kláštor, a valuable collection of herbs,which reveals a thorough study of the local flora, i.e. an intense contact with the outer environment of the monastery. Furthermore, the introductory notes of the manuscript inform about cases when Cyprian provided medical aid for the inhabitants of the nearby settlements. This source allows us to investigate the role of the monastery infirmaries in a context that extends over the walls of the monastery and allows us to consider them not only as a functionally differentiated unit of the monastery but also as focal points where various forms of theoretical and practical knowledge were concentrated and transmitted both into and out of the monasteries.

Panel III. Devotion and Vocation: The Transitionof Ideas

Antonio Bueno

To whom may read this. The Prologue of Linguistic Works and Translations of the Dominicans as the Main Ideas for Reflection on Translation Theory

From the humbleness and the indulgence wishes that distinguish the behaviour of the lexicographic works and the translations of the Dominicans, we find strong reasons to explain the genesis of these paratexts that constitute the prologues, recommendations, introductions, or warnings to the readers. Even though the reader’s ignorance of the Holy Doctrine is sometimes the writer’s strong reason to translate a text, other times the reason is the need to reflect a new ideology or the wish to emend a rather unfortunate former edition of the text. In any case, we witness the representation of the way the Dominican translator and lexicographer perceived his mission in the most authentic line of the reflection on translation theory.

Desde el sentimiento de humildad y los deseos de indulgencia que caracterizan los comportamientos de las obras lexicográficas y de traducción de los dominicos, hallamos razones poderosas para explicar la génesis de estos paratextos que constituyen los prólogos, recomendaciones, introducciones o advertencias al lector. Si la ignorancia de la Santa Doctrina  por parte del lector constituye en ocasiones la razón poderosa del escritor para trasladar un texto, en otras es la necesidad de reflejar un nuevo ideario, cuando no el deseo de enmendar la plana a una edición anterior poco afortunada. En todo caso asistimos a la representación de un pensamiento sobre la misión del traductor y lexicógrafo dominico en la línea más auténtica de la reflexión traductológica.

Monika Brenišínová

Mexican Monasteries and Processions. The Transmission of Ideas, Space, and Time between the New and the Old World

The subject of this contribution presents Mexican monastic architecture built during the 16th century by the regular clergy (namely Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians) and the Spanish Crown with the aim to christianise and colonize native people of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Particularly, it examines the practice of making processions within the monastic architecture both in the inner or outer space and related ideas. This practice stems from both Western and Mesoamerican traditions , which over time mingled in the set of syncretic habits and rituals that served to native people to set up profound relations with space and time. This practice was recorded both in the monastic art (mural paintings) and in written sources (chronicles and rules). As regards the method, this contribution works with classical historical and art historical methods and anthropological concepts. Hence, its approach is interdisciplinary and it combines diachronic and synchronous perspectives which enable the interpretation and contextualisation of the phenomena.

Marcin F. Rdzak

Books of Enrollment to the Fraternity of the Scapular (1911-1946) from the Convent of Carmelite Fathers in Lwów. The Transition of Devotion Patterns

The archive of the monastery of Lwów can be found in the Carmelite monastery “On the Sand” in Cracow. Among other stored records there are enrollment books of the fraternity of the scapularin which one can findnames of persons to whom the brown scapular was conferred in the convent of white fathers in Lwow.

The history of the scapular started in 1251 when Simon Stock had a vision of Blessed Virgin who gave him a black scapular. Saint Mary promised him that all who will persevere in the order until their death would be accepted to heaven. Thanks to this promise many men joinedthe Carmelites. When the order decided to conferthe scapular also on lay persons, new confraternities emerged very fast. The confraternitiesspread the devotion of Blessed Virgin to further areas and she started to be referred to as Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The author will show the expansion of the idea of scapular throughoutEurope and beyond which will be demonstrated to have caused the production of many objects of art and records of chancellery activity, e.g. enrollment books of the fraternity of the scapular atthe convent of Lwow. Fraternity books will be presented as a primary sourceto social history.


Panel IV. Arts and Architecture: Transfer of Forms

Pavel Štěpánek

El Escorial as a Spiritual Model of Czech and Moravian Monasteries in the Light of the Contemporary Interpretation (Hradisko, Kuks, Plasy)

The (Cistercian) monastery of Hradisko, located near the city of Olomouc (todaya part of the city), is denominated occasionally as “The Escorial of Moravia”. This denomination discerns the fact that its basic ground plan starts from the schema that offers the silhouette of the chief Spanish Royal palace-monastic complex of El Escorial near Madrid. However, Hradisko is not a unique case. The Escorial´s schema with towers at the corners (but also interiors of the temple) became a traditional model and practically influenced many constructions in Europe, e.g. in Austrian Graz, Bavaria, and Poland. In Czech lands, Bohemia and Moravia, this idea seems to be one of the spiritual (not formal) sources of inspiration, as in the previously mentioned Hradisko, and also Kuks. This paper will explain the influence of The Escorial on monasteries of Central Europe (in selected examples such as Hradisko, Kuks, and Plasy), and will indicate the functional and ideological analogies as well as the union of the altar and the throne on the background of the dynastic and political aspects in the frame of Pietas Austriaca (e.g. the monastery as residence of the Monarch).

Hradišťský klášter u Olomouce se označuje někdy jako Moravský Escorial, což postihuje skutečnost, že jeho základní půdorysná osnova vychází ze schématu, který nabízí silueta hlavního španělského královského palácově-klášterního komplexu El Escorial. Není to jediný případ. Escorialské schéma s věžemi na nároží (ale i vnitřní chrámové prostory) se stalo vzorem pro tradici mnohých staveb a prakticky ovlivnilo ideově řadu staveb v Evropě, mj. v rakouském Štýrském Hradci, v Bavorsku, Polsku, a objevuje se jako jeden z (duchovních, nikoliv formálních) inspiračních zdrojů Kuksu, i olomouckého Hradiska. Bude pojednáno o vlivu Escorialu na zakládání barokních klášterů ve střední Evropě (na vybraných příkladech: Hradisko, Kuks, Plasy) – analogie funkcionální a ideové, zejména spojení oltáře s trůnem na historickém pozadí dynastických a politických aspektů v rámci Pietas austriaca (např. klášter jako residence monarchy).

 Jana Povolná

Sázava monastery: St Procop, Scriptorium and the Church

This paper will deal with the medieval period of Sázava monastery. The main focus will be on confessionalization, primarily in Middle Bohemia by the Benedictine monks, on the foundation and establishment of Sázava monastery, and on the persona of St. Prokop.

In preserved literary sources St. Prokop is described as a very pious and glorified man. His canonization in 1204 is related as a legend and its process as significantly unusual.Several other legends have been created in St. Prokop’s honour: one of them presumably written in the Old Slavonic language. In the 11th century the monastery was also known for serving Roman Rite Mass in Old Slavonic.It is also important to mention Sázava scriptorium and Sázava chronicle which was written by the “Unknow monk”. This chronicle is the first monastery chronicle in Bohemia and the “Unknow monk” is identified as Kosmas’s follower.Finally, a small medieval church in nearby village Stříbrná Skalice – Rovná has to be mentioned. This church is dedicated to St. James the Greater, which indicates some higher cultural surroundings. The wall paintings belong to the eldest in Bohemia, and they display New Jerusalem, Christological cycle, and the legend of St. James and Prokop. The external sculptural decoration is sometimes compared to the Church of St. James the Greater in Regensburg.

Panel V. Writing Monastery 

Renata Modráková

Benedictine St. George’s Monastery at the Prague Castle as a Crossroad of Medieval Cultural Trend and Ideas

Benedictine St. George’s Convent at the Prague Castle was not only the most powerful and wealthiest convent of the Czech lands, but also the centre of cultural development. It was not only because of its position in the middle of Prague and well-educated nuns, but also thanks to a specific circle of persons in an inner space (matronae, conversae, canons) and outer space (educated girls, original families of nuns, donators, and members of the founding dynasty). The convent produced or enabled to produce a wide range of manuscripts, quite often in a luxurious form. Well educated nuns supported circulation of vernacular texts, especially in the Czech language. St. George’s abbesses directed codifications of liturgical codices used not only within the convent’s walls. For almost one century, the convent had its own scriptorium with a large production of liturgical manuscripts. The activity of this scriptorium had been known in Czech historical sciences but only in rough outlines. My last research reconstructed this scriptorium, its activity, and all persons connected with it.

The next theme of my research is St. George’s library. How large was it? Which type of manuscripts were held here? Which of them were ordered by the convent and which by specific nuns? And what were the differences to the libraries and their contents of male Benedictine libraries? St. George’s abbesses and nuns were in permanent contacts with other Benedictine convents of the Czech lands (and maybe further abroad). Their propagation of cultural ideas went also beyond other female monastic institutions of the Czech lands. This presentation based on detailed palaeographical and codicological research should open a wide range of multidisciplinary cooperation and specify other possible researchers’ ideas and contacts.

Jan Kremer

Religious Identity and Order Discipline – Early Thirteenth-Century Bohemian Premonstratensians

Presented paper tries to reconstruct the situation of the order in the Bohemian Kingdom during the beginning of the 13th century. There was not only a transfer of uniform rules and norms from the centre in Prémontré to the Bohemian and Moravian periphery. There were also different religious (corporate) identities existing within the order negotiated through diverse communication links such as filial hierarchy. Moreover, these were strongly influenced by local political and cultural realities. Due to the scarcity of written sources we are able to trace only reflections of identity construction in the diplomatic and narrative texts. Still, evidence of these discursive processes bears important information not only about the Bohemian Premonstratensians but also about the state of local society and their reciprocal influence.

Kristian Bertović

Glagolitic monks – Monastic Continuity and Glagolitic Script in the Medieval Croatia and the Istrian Peninsula

Notable peculiarities in language and script are among the key differentiating elements of monastic life in Medieval Croatia and Istria. This paper will raise questions connected to such peculiarities—specifically, the usage of the Glagolitic script among the Benedictine, Pauline, and Franciscan monastic communities in Croatia and Istria throughout the Middle Ages. I will approach this from the historical rather than the linguistic perspective by contextualizing the use, dissemination, and function of the Glagolitic script in the given regions, with attention to the differences between the Croatian and Istrian communities.

In pursuing the historical contextualization, this paper will examine the origins and the background of the Glagolitic script in the given regions; reasons for its approval and dissemination among the monastic communities; and the role it played in their interaction with local communities, patrons, other monastic orders, and their own communities. It will also explore ways and reasons for the continuity of its usage and acceptance, with an emphasis on its role in the transfer of knowledge between the orders and the part played by significant aristocratic benefactors who acted as potential mediators of dissemination and appropriation. Finally, the paper will discuss the coexistence of the Glagolitic and Latin scripts and their connections, similarities, and differences in everyday usage. By comparing these respective elements in medieval Croatia and Istria, and considering the shifting political, urban, and social developments throughout the period, I will also be able to attest whether and to what extent they influenced the spread, use, and role of Glagolitic script in the lives of various monastic communities. This analysis will provide a deeper understanding of the role of Glagolitic in Croatian and Istrian communities, which will in turn allow for a more comprehensive evaluation of these communities as such.




[1]„Procul vero cernentibus nil fore aliud quam spatiosa quaedam, immo speciosa, turris videtur. Sed et mare recessu suo devotis populis bis in die desideratum iter praebet beati petentibus limina archangeli Michaelis. “Revelatio ecclesiae sancti Michaelis archangeli in Monte qui dicitur Tumba, in: Pierre Bouet – Olivier Desbordes (edd.), Chroniques latines du Mont Saint-Michel IXe–XIIe siècle, Caen, 2009, p. 94.