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date: 16 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The essay surveys various spiritual exercises from Augustine to Saint Ignatius, focussing on the devotional subjects for whom they were written and on the conditions in which the proposed devotions could best be realized. Chief among the latter were separation, either in body or in spirit, from the concerns of the world, the silence or quieting of the mind and, in many cases, the accomplishment of a series of gestures and prayers. While in such earlier texts in the Mirrors for Princes mode, the actions to be accomplished are fairly perfunctory, texts from the later middle ages show a marked increase in the specifics of the proposed programme. For the laity, the accomplishment of such programmes entailed complex negotiations between both social and familial engagement in the world, and the attainment of some level of disengagement in prayer and meditation. Such conflicting obligations are specifically addressed by later authors.

Keywords: Prayer, meditation, devotion, spiritual exercises, Mirrors for Princes, Books of Hours, imitation

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