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emotion in sermons, Late Medieval Italy, Christianity


In 1493 the well-known and controversial Franciscan preacher Bernardino of Feltre gave a series of Lenten sermons to the people of Pavia. On March 11 he dedicated an entire sermon to the necessity of contrition—or perfect sorrow over sin—in the rite of confession. Speaking to a large audience of both men and women, rich and poor, and the local ecclesiastical and civic authorities, Bernardino discussed how one should behave when contrite: “If you cannot feel sorrow of the body, then at least [feel it] in [your] heart, and if you cannot weep with [your] bodily eyes, then at least [weep] in [your] heart.”