MARY IN THE MIDDLE AGES: The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Thought of Medieval Latin Theologians. By Luigi Gambero, S.M. Translated by Thomas Buffer. (Ignatius Press, 2515 McAllister St. San Francisco, CA. 94118, 2005), 339 pp. PB $17.95.
Fr. Luigi Gambero, S.M., Mariologist at both the Marianum in Rome and the International Marian Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio, has once again offered to the faithful an excellent survey of the Mariological writings available in the Catholic Church. In his first volume, Mary and the Fathers of the Church (Ignatius Press, 1999), skillfully translated by Fr. Thomas Buffer, Fr. Gambero introduced to an English audience many Marian passages from the Patristic period. In this volume, once again masterfully translated by Fr. Thomas Buffer, the reader is introduced to the magnificent Marian passages found in many saints, scholars and mystics of the Medieval period of Church history (7th – 15th century).
As an accomplished Church historian, Fr. Gambero’s systematic presentation of the material leads one into a greater appreciation of the historical, ecclesial, theological and political context in which the selected Marian passages from the Medieval period are situated. The book is divided into four sections: Early Middle Ages, 7th – 11th centuries; Golden Period, 12 th century; Age of Scholasticism, 13th century; New Expressions of Marian Faith and Devotion, 14th and 15th centuries. Each of these sections has an introduction that situates the person being presented within his particular milieu.
In addition to the rich historical content of the book, Fr. Gambero also identifies and presents some of the more important theological and spiritual movements, for example, the Carolingian Renaissance and Cluniac Reform, that were present during this era of Church history and produced an abundance of writings on the Virgin Mary.
Within the book one finds a presentation of 36 authors. These authors are both representative of some of the more prominent figures of the Medieval Period (Venerable Bede, Alcuin, Anselm of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvaux, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus and Bridget of Sweden) and those figures whose names have not received as much attention (Paul the Deacon, Peter Damian, Rupert of Deutz, Arnold Bonneval, Philip of Harveng, Raymond Lull, Jean Gerson and Antoninus of Florence).
As for the Marian texts that are presented, Fr. Gambero has selected passages from each figure that reveal the selected author’s understanding and insights into Mary’s privileges and prerogatives. Before providing a translation of a Marian passage from the author’s original work, Fr.Gambero highlights the more apparent Mariological themes within the author’s overall Marian writings. By approaching the Medieval writings on Mary in this fashion one is able to distinguish certain Marian emphases that were prominent throughout the Medieval period, for example, Mary’s divine motherhood, mediation, cooperation in salvation, assumption, virginity, and sorrows.
As a book offering for the first time English translations of classical Marian texts, this volume is an invaluable resource for Marian Studies. Historians, theologians, and Mariologists alike, will all benefit from this Mariological treasure.
Fr. Donald H. Calloway, M.I.C.