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Perfect FoolsFolly for Christ's Sake in Catholic and Orthodox Spirituality$
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John Saward

Print publication date: 1980

Print ISBN-13: 9780192132307

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780192132307.001.0001

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Folly from East to Far West

Folly from East to Far West

Chapter:
(p.31) 3 Folly from East to Far West
Source:
Perfect Fools
Author(s):

John Saward

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780192132307.003.0003

This chapter discusses the connection between Irish and Eastern folly. Early Christian Ireland had the most thoroughgoing monastic Church in Christendom. Folly became a feature of its spirituality and fools the regular companions of monks. The constant association of monks with fools, lepers, and outcasts preserved a sense of monastic marginality, a fervent resistance to conformity to the wisdom of the world. This is one of the key elements in Eastern folly, and it may be this generalized sense, rather than a completely developed hagiographical category of ‘holy fool’, which is most characteristic in early Irish Christianity.

Keywords:   Ireland, holy folly, holy fools, Irish asceticism, Irish Christianity

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