Visions in Late Medieval England

Lay Spirituality and Sacred Glimpses of the Hidden Worlds of Faith


Visions were highly popular in the late Middle Ages, whether preached as vivid stories from the pulpit, illuminated in saint-filled manuscripts, or experienced during the breathless anticipation of a Mass or eerie darkness of a Yorkshire graveyard. This volume is the first to map out the wide range of vision types in late medieval English lay piety. Analyzing 1000 visionary accounts gathered from sermon and exempla collections, religious devotional works, saints’ legends, and lay stories, it explores five central dynamics of spirituality that visions shaped and sustained: Transactions of Satisfaction (visits to and from purgatory and hell), Reciprocated Devotion (visitations of the saints), Spiritual Warfare (attacks by demons), Supra-Sacramental Sight (Mass and Passion sightings), and Mediated Revelation (prophetic visions).

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Gwenfair Walters Adams, Ph.D. (1993) in Medieval Ecclesiastical History, Cambridge University, is Associate Professor of Church History at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.


1. Transactions of Satisfaction and Visions of the Otherworld
2. Reciprocated Devotion and Visitations of the Saints
3. Spiritual Warfare in Demonic Encounters
4. Seeing Through the Surface: Vision as Supra-sacramental Sight
5. Visions, Power, and the Dynamic of Mediated Revelation


All those interested in Medieval History, medieval England, ‘popular piety,’ visions, English literature, medieval spirituality and spirituality in general, as well as theologians and church historians.
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