The Divine Child in Paschasius Radbertus' "De Corpore et Sanguine Domini," Chapter XIV

Patricia McCormick Zirkel, Fordham University


De Corpore et Sanguine Domini is a seminal document in the history of a western tradition of teaching on the sacrament of eucharist. This teaching emphasizes the "real" or bodily presence of Christ on the altar as opposed to a "spiritual" or symbolic presence. The dissertation examines one aspect of several visions which comprise Chapter XIV of the document--the image of Christ present in the eucharist as a child--and shows that the document fosters a spirituality of dynamic, internal change within the participant, rather than a worship of Christ's body and blood. As part of the dissertation, Chapter XIV of De Corpore is translated from the Latin and incorporated in an Appendix. The early chapters of the dissertation give the theology and textual history of the treatise. The tribal religious concerns of its Saxon audience are briefly introduced, and the text of Chapter XIV is examined in some detail. The history of a Christian tradition of visions and miracles is also presented. Finally, the general psychological system of C. G. Jung is introduced in order to explain the subjective component of certain visions and to build a base of understanding for a process of personal transformation on which the remainder of the dissertation is focussed. The dissertation continues with an examination of the synthesis of personality which Jung terms the "Self," and adduces a pattern of human existence which includes wounding and transformation. This pattern of existence is shown to be typified in the figure of Christ, but is also present in the mythology of certain pagan gods. Radbert's use of a Divine Child symbol promotes a personal and emotional identification of the worshipper with the Christ Child. This placing of Christ as the center of one's spiritual life implies a corresponding removal of older, deeply entrenched Saxon pagan images.

Subject Area

Theology|Religious history|Middle Ages

Recommended Citation

Zirkel, Patricia McCormick, "The Divine Child in Paschasius Radbertus' "De Corpore et Sanguine Domini," Chapter XIV" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8917244.