English Professor Publishes Essay

Image of St. Guthlac from the Guthlac Roll (British Library)

Stefan Jurasinski (Professor of English) published “Laying Down the Law? Bishop Headda’s Visit to Saint Guthlac,” in an edited volume about law and literature in the early Middle Ages.

Saint Guthlac of Croyland was a seventh-century Mercian warrior. At the point of accumulating considerable wealth and influence, Guthlac gave it all up to live alone in imitation of Egyptian hermits who sought solitude in the desert (most famously, St. Athanasius). As England has no deserts, the best place Guthlac could find in which to establish his own hermitage was a swampy, uninhabited wilderness in southern Lincolnshire.

Making use of Latin liturgical materials and other evidence, this essay identifies for the first time the method by which Saint Guthlac cured a young man of demon possession (which was something he had to do sometimes). It also suggests that Guthlac’s bishop may not have been entirely happy with his work.

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Stefan Jurasinski (sjurasin@brockport.edu)

Posted: September 11, 2023