Thousands and Thousands of Lovers examines the spiritual significance of community to the Cistercian nuns of Helfta—a concern that lies at the heart of the monastery’s literature. Focusing on a woefully understudied resource and the largest body of female-authored writings in the thirteenth century, this book offers insight into the religious preoccupations of a theologically expert and intellectually vibrant cloister to reveal a subtle interplay between communal practice and private piety, other-directed attention, and inward-religious impulse. It considers the nuns’ attitudes toward community among themselves and with their household members as well as with souls in purgatory and the saints.
Anna Harrison is associate professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, where she teaches courses in the history of Christian late antiquity and the Middle Ages. She is currently at work on a monograph titled Paradox: The Life and Thought of Bernard of Clairvaux.