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Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus in the Medieval West



Associate Professor


From the eleventh century onward, there was an increasing preoccupation in Western Christianity with Christ’s humanity and suffering body. This “Christocentric turn” was not just towards the bloodied human body of Christ but also towards his human name, “Jesus.” The roots of this were deep, as from the early Church onwards Christian writers had promoted personal attachment to the name “Jesus” through prayer, worship, and meditation as well as its benefits of healing, protection, and salvation. Distinctive cults of the Holy Name developed in different territories that gained significant popular followings and, in time, official sanction, although not without controversy. This chapter sketches the development of these different traditions and assesses their significance. It explores the relationship of the cult of the Holy Name to other
forms of Christocentric devotion, principally practices focused on the Passion of Christ. It asks how distinctive was devotion to the Name of Jesus, and why it gained popular appeal. An important aspect of this was the development of Holy Name contemplative practices and the dissemination of mystical ideals
and ecstatic experiences. The chapter also explores other aspects, including the wide dissemination of the sacred monogram. Lastly, it examines the controversies that surrounded the increasing popularity of devotion to the Name of Jesus, including accusations of idolatry and conservative reactions to Holy Name enthusiasm.


LUTTON, R. (2019). Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus in the Medieval West. In Illuminating Jesus in the Middle Ages (129-53). Leiden /Boston: Brill Academic Publishers.

Acceptance Date Dec 7, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 10, 2019
Publication Date Sep 24, 2019
Deposit Date Jun 2, 2020
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
Pages 129-53
Series Title Commentaria: Sacred Texts and Their Commentaries: Jewish, Christian and Islamic
Series Number Vol. 12
Series ISSN 1874-8236
Book Title Illuminating Jesus in the Middle Ages
Chapter Number 7
ISBN 9789004409415
Keywords Anselm of Bec; Bernard of Clairvaux; Bernardino of Siena; charisma and its routinization; contemplation; devotion; ecstatic experience; John of Howden; heresy; heterodoxy; liturgy; mendicants; mysticism; Name of Jesus; prayer; preaching; read
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