Negotiating the Boundary between Monastic Seclusion and Apostolic Mission in the Bishopric of Chur around the Year 800

Document Type


Document Subtype


Presentation Date

Spring 5-12-2011

Conference Name

International Congress on Medieval Studies

Conference Location

Kalamazoo, Michigan


By virtue of their lifestyle and learning, early medieval monks were particularly well-suited to serve a pastoral role, yet at the turn of the ninth century, Carolingian efforts at reform reveal a discomfort with monastic engagement with the secular world through the establishment of clerical precedence in matters concerning the laity. But just as reform characterized Carolingian monasticism, so too did diversity, and in a region immediately adjacent to the Bishopric of Chur we have direct evidence of monks playing a pastoral role. In the Bishopric of Chur itself, the evidence may be less direct, but it is mounting. The texts copied into three manuscripts written in the local script provide evidence of a more active vocation. Archaeology yields material evidence in the form of a baptismal font in a church at the Monastery of Disentis. Finally, at the Monastery of Saint John in Müstair, a reinterpretation of the layout of the monastery, an analysis of newly revealed wall paintings on the exterior of a smaller chapel, and a new interpretation of the wall paintings inside the main church attest to monastic inhabitants for whom negotiating the space between the confines of the cloister and the world beyond constituted a central part of their collective identity.


Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture

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