Thursday, August 24, 2006

Augustine's Mother and Her Grave Offerings

The Christian practices related to the dead that I mentioned Tuesday are neither merely recent nor isolated. Augustine reports that in the fourth century CE, Monica, his mother, participated in the contemporary spiritual practice of bringing food offerings of porridge, bread, and wine to the mortuary shrines of Christian martyrs. The faithful would feast at the graves, sometimes indulging too heavily in the wine that they brought. When Monica met up with her son in Milan, she had to suspend the practice there. Milan's bishop, Ambrose, had prohibited the custom within his jurisdiction.

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