On the Formation of Clergy
Fathers of the Church Medieval Continuations
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Among the intellectuals of the Carolingian Renaissance of the ninth century, few are as prolific and influential as Hrabanus Maurus (c.780-856), a monk and abbot of the monastery of Fulda and then archbishop of Mainz. Most famous among modern authors as the putative author of the hymn "Come, Holy Ghost," Hrabanus was highly esteemed by generations of medieval intellectuals, including Dante, who located the archbishop among St. Bonaventure’s cohort in the sphere of the Sun.
This volume presents for the first time in English translation Hrabanus’s pedagogical masterpiece On the Formation of Clergy (De institutione clericorum). Unveiled on the Feast of All Saints in 819, at the dedication of the great Salvator basilica, Hrabanus’ work addresses the most important focuses of the Carolingian Renaissance: education and ecclesiastical reform. The treatise promotes a careful balance between classical training and Christian ethics and features the robust pedagogy of the early medieval monastic curriculum. At points it even offers glimpses into the energetic environment of Fulda’s classrooms. On the Formation of Clergy also supplies a program for ecclesiastical reform. It provides readers with a primer on ecclesiastical hierarchy and liturgy, providing glosses on church offices and explanations of important church activities.
Hrabanus divided his opus into three books. Book One explains Holy Orders. It lays out the distinctions between clergy and laity, enumerates the ranks of the priesthood, describes clerical vesture, and explores the sacraments. Book Two examines priestly life. It considers ascetic disciplines appropriate for priests at different grades, describes expected prayer routines, and identifies important doctrinal teachings and principal liturgical feasts. Book Three treats biblical studies and preaching. It lays out a curriculum for the liberal arts, connects the liberal arts to catechetics and homiletics, and integrates academic study with moral instruction.
On the Formation of Clergy was widely read throughout the Middle Ages. Beyond its impact on the Carolingian Renaissance, the treatise guided legal analysis in Gratian’s Decretum, supplied examples for Peter Lombard’s Sentences, and is cited by theological titans from Rupert of Deutz to Thomas Aquinas to Gabriel Biel.