Christian monasticism developed in Egypt in the 3rd century when some Christians chose poverty and isolation as a way of getting closer to God. Communities copying the strict way of life of these holy men quickly spread across Europe and became an important part of medieval European society. By the mid-12th century, there were around 500 monasteries in England.
Religious processions 1300–1500
Processions played an important role in the religious cycle, particularly on saints' festivals and during the Holy Week leading up to Easter. They were also held on special occasions - at funerals, during prayers for rain or a good harvest, or when relics were formally moved (or ' translated' ) from one site to another.
Music from choirbook leaves
This page contains examples of Gregorian chant performed by students from the Royal College of Music. Gregorian chants were traditionally sung by choirs in convents and monasteries. These chants come from a number of illuminated manuscript leaves in the V&A's collection. These pages were originally from choirbooks made in northern Europe in about 1250.
During the Italian Renaissance, charismatic preachers spoke not only about spiritual matters but also about the social, political, moral and economic issues of the day. They had a profound effect on people’s lives, both spiritual and earthly. They shaped views, and by extension legislation, affecting such issues as the treatment of Jews, homosexuality, and prostitution.
Saints & Suffering
During the medieval and Renaissance periods, saints, particularly female saints, were also venerated because of the pain or martyrdom they suffered during their lives. For people living in an age where what rudimentary medicine there was was as likely to kill as to cure you, saints, who had suffered themselves, were comforting figures and a focus for prayers for recovery.
Video: Religious processions from Holy Week in Seville
This film details three separate religious processions during Holy Week in Seville: Procession of the Archicofradía Sacramental de Pasión (pasos of Christ carrying the Cross and the Virgin of Mercy), procession of the Cofradía del Silencio (pasos of Christ carrying the Cross and the Virgin of the Holy Conception) and procession of the Hermandad de la Macarena (pasos of The Judgement of Christ and the Virgin of the Macarena). Featured as part of the V&A exhibition Baroque: Style in the Age of Magnificence.