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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  March 2009

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION March 2009

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Subject:

Re: number of monks?

From:

"George R. Hoelzeman" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 11:36:36 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

On Mon, 30 Mar 2009 08:51:19 -0700, Steve Cartwright wrote:

> Benedictine monk (Fr. Laurence Freeman) that suggests, not in any scholarly way, that a "hemina" was a completely and deliberately made-up amount. 
Benedict did this because, as he says in the Rule, monks could not be convinced of the need for moderation; this arbitrary amount would have to be 
determined by the community. Laurence argues that this is evidence of Benedict's sense of humor.

>Steve Cartwright
>Western Michigan University


That would be an interesting read. . . .

Benedict actually does not say monks could not be convinced of the need for moderation.  Referencing some of the sayings of the desert fathers, he says 
""Licet legamus vinum omnino monachorum non esse, sed quia nostris temporibus id monachis persuaderi non potest, saltem vel hoc consentiamus ut non 
usque ad satietatem bibamus, sed paricius . . . "  Kardong translates this as "We read that win is absolutely not for monks.  But since monks in our day 
cannot be convinced of this, let us at least agree not to drink to excess, but sparingly."

Kardong does seem to affirm Fr. Laurence's thesis in his commentary (cf. pg 340-341) but notes that Benedict is still trying to moderate the consumption of 
wine, in contrast to the Master who actually is rather indulgent, seeing wine as a "gift."  Benedict reminds the reader (persumably an abbot) that monks 
shouldn't drink wine, but no one will listen to that admonition, so its up to the abbot (or community) to regulate consumption.  This is consistent with the first 
paragraph of chapter 40 in which Benedict declares his reluctance to regulate food for others.

Still since no one knows what Benedict meant by a hemina its kind of a moot point, and yes, it would have been mixed with water (something which 
survives in the Mass today) so how far a hemina could go is also an open question.

Relating this to the original question, it may be - probably is - impossible to determine a community's size based on wine (or food) consumption because the 
Rule is not particularly precise in this regard. . . 

Also, from what I recall, Medieval monks had a reputation for being rather on the portly side . . . or is that a later Romantic distortion of reality?

George the Less

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