Thursday, 5 February 2015

Alberto Ferreiro: Mourning the Dead in the Letters of St. Braulio of Zaragoza

The collection of letters from St. Braulio of Zaragoza are a unique collection from Visigothic Hispania that yield a rare personal glimpse into the mind and culture of the seventh century through this most illustrious bishop. For no other writer of the entire Late Antique-Visigothic period do we have a comparable collection. Surprisingly, in St. Braulio historiography they have received the most scant of attention in terms of their internal content. We do, however, benefit from at least two editions of the letters.  It is obvious that these letters merit a closer reading and study. In this study I will focus upon a select group of letters that address the topic of death and mourning. As bishop and pastor St. Braulio corresponded with members of his flock whom he knew personally that were mourning the death of loved ones. In addition to offering words of comfort St. Braulio expounds upon the proper manner of mourning for Christians. In this article I will also provide some of the patristic background on the topic of mourning the dead by Christians based upon Jesus' shedding of tears for Lazarus before raising him from the dead. Moreover, we do know that St. Braulio borrowed and incorporated Jerome in some of his letters.

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