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The first book to include full texts and photographs from the Apostolic Penitentiary, A Sip from the "Well of Grace" is groundbreaking in its analysis of one of the most important papal offices of the Middle Ages. The Penitentiary alone was responsible for granting absolutions, dispensations, licences, and special declarations in various matters such as marriage, illegitimacy, murder and violence, confession, and clerical ordination. With access to archival records long sealed by the Vatican, Kirsi Salonen and Ludwig Schmugge offer historians many new insights for interpreting an important structure of medieval life.
The book begins with an introduction to the functions of the Apostolic Penitentiary and considers its role among the various papal offices. Also examined are the various circumstances for which Christians turned to its authority. Procedures for cases as well as the canon law regulations behind the cases are discussed, along with an overview of various documents that were produced during the handling of a case in the Penitentiary.
The second part of the book introduces several case studies. Each case is illustrated with the help of original documents preserved both in the Vatican Secret Archives and in numerous local archives in Germany, Italy, and Scandinavia. The original Latin documents are fully edited and accompanied by English translation. Each document is also available in the form of a digital photo, which allows readers to learn concretely what the documents and writing looked like and to exercise palaeographic skills.
A Sip from the "Well of Grace" will be an important addition to any collection on the social and religious history of the later Middle Ages. It is the seventh volume in the ongoing Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Canon Law series.