Helen Gittos

The Languages of the Liturgy in the Middle Ages


It is often said that Latin was the language of the liturgy in western Europe in the medieval period. This view is so  prevalent that when vernacular prayers are found it tends to be assumed they were for private devotions. But vernacular languages were used in certain liturgical contexts from the early Middle Ages right through the period. Focusing on England but drawing on continental parallels, I shall sketch out the current state of our knowledge and talk about the consequences this has for re-imagining the liturgical past.

Helen Gittos is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Kent (England). She is interested in the social, cultural and religious history of the early Middle Ages, particularly of Anglo-Saxon England, and also of medieval liturgy and architecture more generally. Her first book, Liturgy, Architecture and Sacred Places in Anglo-Saxon England was published in 2013. She has co-edited The Liturgy of the Late Anglo-Saxon Church published in 2005, and Interpreting Medieval Liturgy (forthcoming 2014) which arises from an international research network which she convened. In this paper she will talk about research relating to her current work on the use of English in the liturgy.