Cistercian Spirituality and Emergence of the Coronation of the Virgin in the Late Middle Ages
By Naoe Kukita
北海道大学医療技術短期大学部紀要, Vol.8 (1995)
Abstract: The twelfth century saw a tremendous rise in Marian piety. From then on, this piety was intensified all over Christendom. Along with the popular devotion to the Virgin Mary, the theme of the “Coronation of the Virgin” acquired high popularity through the artistic representation of the Virgin. The proliferation and diffusion of the Coronation theme are indebted to the Cistercian spirituality grown out of the traditional Christian mysticism and elaborated through that of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Cistercian monks. The theme of the “Coronation,” however, reflects the monastic concepts and sentiments which the twelfth and thirteenth centuries professed for the Virgin, demonstrating the problematic and complex nature of the late medieval monastic spirituality.
Expanding upon the affective piety and Cistercian mysticism of the late Middle Ages, this paper traces the emergence of the artistic theme of the “Coronation of the Virgin” in the context of spousal imagery of the Song of Songs and demonstrates how St. Bernard interpreted the Virgin’s Coronation and linked it to the mystical pilgrimage of the human soul in attaining the ultimate dependence on and union with God.