Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2005


Johns Hopkins University Press


First became aware of the need for something like the Classics of Western Spirituality (CWS) in the late 1960's and early 1970's when I was working on my licentiate thesis in Paris. My subject was the understanding of consecrated virginity in the first four centuries of Christianity. I was motivated to study this subject by two hunches, both confirmed by my subsequent research: first, that the spirituality of Catholic Religious Life, both monastic and ministerial, as it developed in the Christian tradition, was actually rooted historically and mystically in the commitment of the consecrated virgins in the first three centuries rather than in the later ascetical tradition of the eremitical movement of the third and fourth centuries; second, that our only access to that early spirituality of consecrated virginity was the texts of the Fathers of the Church, a surprising number of whom had written whole treatises de virginibus (on virgins) and de virginitatis (on virginity).


Copyright © 2005 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Spiritus 5:1 (Spring 2005), 97-102. Reprinted with permission by Johns Hopkins University Press.

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