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LUMEN LECTURE: ”A sermon preach’d at the churchynge of a matron”

The Ritual of Churching of Women after Childbirth in Lutheran Denmark Lecture by Mette M. Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, D.Phil (Oxford)

2020.09.28 | Bjarke Hellemann Weiss

Date Fri 02 Oct
Time 15:00 17:00
Location 1461-516

Rooted in Levitical childbirth impurity and closely linked to the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, churching was a troublesome legacy for Lutheran reformers. Even so, the ritual not only survived the Reformation, it became a useful means of the Church to support and promote the estate of marriage in Early Modern Denmark. During the mid-1700s churching fell from favour among the elite and urban classes whilst continuing unabated in most of rural Denmark far into the 19th century - in some areas even into the 20th century. The last Danish churching dates from the 1960s.

Churching is unique because it was the only church rite which focussed solely on women. Church and community invested time, care and means on the celebration of the married mother for whom the rite was as much a church rite as a social marker – in contrast to the unmarried mother who was faced with church discipline and parochial condemnation.

Churching has hitherto received scant attention in scholarship. This paper will retrace its history based upon a broad range of fresh research material - dedicated churching sermons and hymns, cases concerning the oft-contested offering fee, and more. It will be argued that if the rite afforded powers to the clergy, churching was as much, if not more, a woman’s rite.

All are welcome. Registration is necessary because of limited number of participants. Register 30 September at: lumen@cas.au.dk

See poster here

Lecture / talk