2012 | 4(9) | 119-142
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Funkcja historii w zakonie dominikańskim oraz czynniki kształtujące pamięć historyczną dominikanina w średniowieczu

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The point of the Dominicans, creating a historiographic work, was not only to establish facts from the past but also to combine the historical and the didactic elements, with the latter playing the decisive role. It was connected with sermons preached by the Dominicans, written with the use of history handbooks, among others. General chapters encouraged to independent writer’s work, which was highly valued at the order. Most frequently, the Dominicans created monumental chronicles of the world, but also the gesta of secular and ecclesiastical rulers, chronicles of cities and states. Besides providing materials for sermons, their task was also to search for and to disseminate the truth, since only in the truth one could recognize God’s intentions, which was so important for everyone at that time. At the Dominicans, chronology was a fragment of the history of the world and the history of salvation. Thus in historiography, they didn’t see the part artes (in the medieval theory of literature, historiography was subordinated to rhetoric and grammar) but the provider of true and adequate information for the writing of sermons, which were to lead towards the Creator (thus the Dominican turn to the past had a pragmatic foundation). It is obvious that making use of different type historical works during preparation of sermons had a significant influence on the shape of individual historical memory of the Dominican (the monastic rule and general chapters did not interfere in the selection of reading of this type, leaving a free choice). It’s also worth considering whether other factors occurred in the Dominican order besides this factor, which had an influence on the shape of the Dominican’s historical memory (group and individual memory). In our opinion, there were several factors. Noteworthy are the official biographies of St Dominic and other works depicting the history of the order’s founder, which were eagerly read, and some of them were required reading (individual) for the Dominicans and novices. Other works were—at least in Western Europe—Legenda aurea by Jacobus de Voragine and Bonum universale de apibus by Thomas de Cantimpré. During meals (recitatio ad mensam) the monastic rule, numerous lives of the saints, as well as works on the congregation’s history the order had in a great number used to be read. The obligatory curriculum of the studies adopted by the general chapter was steeped in historical content. The foundation of the Dominican studies—to which all brethren-priests were pledged throughout their life—was the Bible, being in principle ”the great historical epic” of the Israelites. At provincial schools of theology and general studies, one of the main books for required reading was Historia scholastica by Petrus Comestor, which is a synthesis of Biblical history from the creation of the world to the Ascension. Different types of encyclopaedic works were also eagerly used, e.g. works containing the whole historical knowledge of the Middle Ages, for example Speculum historiale by Vincent of Beauvais. When listing the factors shaping the memory one cannot omit the memorias, i.e. collective or individual prayers of monks said for salvation of the dead (and living) fellow monks and benefactors (memoria mortuorum et benefactorum). These people were remembered, writing them down in special books. In the Dominican order, prayers of this type were an important part of liturgy, which is proved by a separate chapter of their constitution entitled De anniversariis devoted to these matters. Prayers for the dead during liturgy did not exclude individual memories, which soon brought to the establishment of special church services for specific dead persons (missae pro defunctis). This type services were exceptionally popular in the Middle Ages amidst the Dominicans. Since the church’s high altar was considered to be devoted to matters concerning the entire commune, church services for the dead were celebrated by side altars. Due to the fact that in the early Middle Ages these side altars were consecrated and as a rule had a martyr as their patron saint, with the passage of time memorias were merged with the worship of these saints. This led to the formation of a strong community with the saints (communio sanctorum), and the vita of a worshipped canonized martyr—living in the specific past—aroused the monks’ curiosity, who wanted to acquaint themselves with their and the believers’ patron saint and advocate. In our opinion, all the above-named factors had an influence on the shape of the monks’ historical memory. Due to the services accepted by their community, one can call the Dominican brethren-priests carriers of special memory, in which—besides the Bible—memoria mortuorum connected with communio sanctorum played—as it seems—the most important role.
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