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Perfect FoolsFolly for Christ's Sake in Catholic and Orthodox Spirituality$
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John Saward

Print publication date: 1980

Print ISBN-13: 9780192132307

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780192132307.001.0001

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Folly from East to Far West

Folly from East to Far West

(p.31) 3 Folly from East to Far West
Perfect Fools

John Saward

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the connection between Irish and Eastern folly. Early Christian Ireland had the most thoroughgoing monastic Church in Christendom. Folly became a feature of its spirituality and fools the regular companions of monks. The constant association of monks with fools, lepers, and outcasts preserved a sense of monastic marginality, a fervent resistance to conformity to the wisdom of the world. This is one of the key elements in Eastern folly, and it may be this generalized sense, rather than a completely developed hagiographical category of ‘holy fool’, which is most characteristic in early Irish Christianity.

Keywords:   Ireland, holy folly, holy fools, Irish asceticism, Irish Christianity

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