VERA F. VINES
ceremonial and pomp of the meeting at the city gate, prior to his installation as
Archbishop of Besançon. But, as we have seen, the prelate also had his less worldly
side, striving as he did over the years for the betterment of his clergy, and his per¬
sonal spiritual life was doubtless shaped by the writings of the great medieval mys¬
tics and contemplatives who so widely influenced contemporary affective devotional
practice. Paradoxically, then, we may suppose that Charles, in tune with the reli¬
gious thinking of his age, also interpreted The Meeting as a metaphor for his own
spiritual aspirations. Through this narrative image he could “journey” to Beth¬
lehem, to “worship” at the crib, and “experience” the Epiphany.27
27 The sense of being physically and emotionally involved was a continuing theme in late medieval
devotional literature; for example, St. Bridget’s vision relates empathetic responses to her “actual”
presence at Christ’s Nativity (see Schiller 78-79). Ludolph of Saxony enjoined the Christian soul to
“go” each day between the Nativity and the Purification to adore Christ “in the stable”. See Ludolph
le Chartreux, La Grande Vie de Ihesus Christ, trans. Dom. Marie Prospera Augustin (Paris: 1863):
I.230ff. M. Bodenstadt enlarges upon Ludolph’s widespread influence on fifteenth century mystics and
preachers; see The Vita Christi of Ludolphus the Carthusian (Washington: 1944) Introduction. See
also James H. Marrow’s discussion of the practices of emotional and physical devotional exercises dur¬
ing the later Middle Ages in Passion Iconography in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages
and Early Renaissance (Courtrai: 1979) 10-28, and “Symbol and Meaning” 165ff. (see note 2 above).
READING MEDIEVAL IMAGES
Figure 52 St. Thomas the Apostle. Missal, Auckland, Public Library MSS G.
138-39, vol. 1, f. 174v; 305x225 mm.