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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The question of the Church’s location became a central issue of the Protestant Reformation: was it the material, visible Church containing the saved and the damned (as yet unable to be distinguished), or the immaterial, invisible Church of the Elect? This little noticed but hugely significant issue preoccupied Reformation theorists, but already in the late fourteenth century writers were conscious of it. Pilgrimage narratives, particularly narratives in which the visible, located Church’s relics are exposed as disgusting, exploitative and fake, underline the fragilities of the “located” Church. This essay defines the theological issue of place, and then sees how it works in practice with two Canterbury pilgrimage texts, Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale and Desiderius Erasmus’s Pilgrimage of Pure Devotion.

Keywords: Thomas Wyatt, Christendom, Geoffrey Chaucer, Roman Catholic Church, place, ecclesiastical disease, spiritual disgust, Pardoner’s Tale, Desiderius Erasmus, Pilgrimage of Pure Devotion

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