Sacred space and the natural world: the holy well and shrine of the Virgin Mary at Penrhys

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    Abstract

    Landscape historians are still debating medieval perceptions of the natural landscape. Meanwhile, recent studies of pilgrimage have focused on the pilgrimage as a moving sacred space, cut off from, and even potentially in conflict with, the cultures through which the pilgrim passes. A study of natural imagery in Welsh poetry to the shrine of the Virgin Mary at Penrhys suggests a more engaged approach. There is a clear sense of place and the natural environment in descriptions of both the route and the shrine, presenting the natural world as blessing rather than challenge. This paper does not suggest anything ‘Celtic’ in the use of nature imagery – the chthonic element is important in Marian shrines in both Eastern and Western traditions: but there are parallels in Welsh poetry to other Marian shrines.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)243 - 260
    Number of pages17
    JournalEuropean Review of History
    Volume18
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2011

    Keywords

    • landscape
    • natural
    • environment
    • pilgrimage
    • shrines
    • Penrhys
    • poetry

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