The demon as the mirror of truth : theology, moral instruction, and heresy in a Rhineland description of exorcism (ca. 1200)
Source document: Religio. 2021, vol. 29, iss. 1, pp. -85
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
This article provides the first Czech translation, with introduction and notes, of the description of an exorcism ritual included in ms. 9 from the Abbey of St. Peter and Paul in Termonde (Dendermonde), well-known to scholars of Hildegard of Bingen, whom the text mentions as being present at the ritual. The article discusses the origin of the text, arguing for its later redaction than in the 1170s, the decade suggested by Laurence Moulinier-Brogi, yet still earlier than about 1230, the approximate year proposed by Uwe Brunn. We assume the very end of the 12th century to be the most probable date, while pointing out the need for further research, which should shed light on the gradual genesis of the source in the context of early hagiographic writings about Hildegard of Bingen. We further discuss some of the significant topics of the source, chiefly the demonization of heretical groups in the lower Rhineland as well as the condemnation of sorcery and superstitious beliefs. In particular, we point out the absence of any echoes of the Cathar ritual of consolamentum from passages mentioning the Cathar heresy. This leads us to the hypothesis that the text echoes specific heterodox doctrines and practices of late 12th-century lower Rhineland, with no direct connection to the dualist heterodox movement of Languedoc and Lombardy, although both milieus were labelled as cathari. Regarding the condemnation of sorcery and superstition, we briefly discuss the role of the mythical female figure called Holda in high medieval folklore. The second part of the article consists of the translation of the source. The translated description of an exorcism brings important testimony about the morally educative efforts and concerns of the Church administration in the lower Rhineland at the turn of the 13th century. Our translation is based on the edition by Laurence Moulinier-Brogi with some suggestions and corrections.