Title Background

The Sacramental Significance of Blood in <i>Piers Plowman</i>‘  , 

The Sacramental Significance of Blood in Piers Plowman‘  , 

Schmidt’s theme is L’s attitudes to the blood Christ shed in order to save the human race, and to this blood’s relation to spiritual cleansing, curing, and feeding. L’s concern with the sacraments is tropological: PPl concentrates on the prefiguring by the ‘sacraments of the natural law’ of the ‘sacraments of grace’. L’s examination of the sacramental value of Christ’s blood is not the result of conventional piety. Holy Church’s speech in B passus 1 suggests that Christ’s mercy is offered to his enemies in response to their piercing of his heart. That L includes mention of the spear that penetrates Christ’s heart, too, is unconventional. The Longeus episode of B.18 is rooted in tradition, but with respect to its revelation of the efficacy of Christ’s lifeblood (under the influence of grace Longeus weeps at the emission of blood and water from Christ’s side), it is not conventional either. In conclusion Schmidt attends to L’s contrarian use of the figure of Abraham (B.16), which suggests that Abraham’s rites of circumcision have a ‘quasi-typological relationship’ to those of John the Baptist. For it is from John that Abraham hears of the Harrowing of Hell—a point Abraham makes just after revealing that he and his household had ‘Bledden blood for that Lordes love’ (p. 223).

Volume

in Burrow and Duggan, Medieval Alliterative Poetry, pp. 212-24.

Author

Schmidt, A. V. C.