The Library in the Liturgy: The Liturgy in the Library

Irving, A. J. M., 26-Oct-2020, Die Bibliothek – The Library – La Bibliothèque: Denkräume und Wissensordnungen. Speer, A. & Reuke, L. (eds.). De Gruyter, p. 596-617 (Miscellanea Mediaevalia; vol. 41).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

The study of physical location of liturgical books constitutes a particularly fruitful means of investigating the implications of de-contextualization and re-contextualization of book objects. Not only do the numbers, types, and ever-evolving combinations of liturgical books as single-volume pluritextual libraries present considerable challenges for the modern cataloguer, but the use, function, and meaning of the liturgical book object is uniquely bound to its location: sacristy, “library”, or elsewhere. This chapter explores the relationship between spaces and the proximities between them, liturgical books, and the ways in which these books are used. Having drawn on the basic archaeological distinction between archaeological and behavioural contexts, the chapter opens with a consideration of the combination and integration of texts of independent origin in the formation of one-volume liturgical libraries. It is argued that the integration and simultaneous distinction of multiple texts in a single pluri-textual volume through both material and visual means is characteristic of liturgical books, which develop particularly sophisticated techniques of textual distinction and combination into single volumes. The second section traces the locations of liturgical books in medieval institutions. Evidence from a variety of monastic and institutional settings reveals an ambiguous picture in which liturgical books are kept in a wide range of spaces, non-liturgical books are kept in liturgical or liturgy-related spaces, and liturgical books kept in liturgical spaces are clearly not used there. The section concludes with a detailed consideration of liturgical books and their location in the medieval Abbey of Montecassino, as an example of difficulty of difficulty of determining and interpreting the location of liturgical books even in prominent medieval monastic institutions. The final section follows the fate of the Cassinese medieval liturgical books through a series of configurations from the early sixteenth century to the present day. A consideration of the various spatial re-configurations of liturgical books within the monastic context provides an opportunity to question apparently basic assumptions about “liturgical” and “non-liturgical” books, spaces, and practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDie Bibliothek – The Library – La Bibliothèque
Subtitle of host publicationDenkräume und Wissensordnungen
EditorsAndreas Speer, Lars Reuke
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-11-070057-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-070039-8
Publication statusPublished - 26-Oct-2020

Publication series

NameMiscellanea Mediaevalia


  • Medieval Liturgy, Medieval libraries, Medieval monasticism, Montecassino, Durham, Arnstein
Related Activities
  1. 41. Kölner Mediävistentagung

    Andrew Irving (Keynote/plenary speaker)


    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conferenceAcademic

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