Middle Welsh Texts on the Virtues of the Mass in their European Context
The aim of this article is to trace the paths of transmission to and within medieval and early modern Wales of traditions concerning the Virtues of the Mass, the benefits accruing from attending Holy Mass. These benefits are found both as lists and as parts of poems in Middle Welsh manuscripts, and correspond to a wealth of similar material in Latin, English, Irish, and other European vernaculars. Since the texts are products of popular religion rather than part of the canonical teaching of the Church, they are extremely fluid, which, in combination with their wide dissemination, would make the exact mapping of their genesis and distribution in Europe a long-term research project in itself. However, even a more limited consideration of these texts can significantly improve our understanding of Middle Welsh religious texts and the patterns of knowledge transfer across borders. In this contribution we shall present the relevant Middle and Early Modern Welsh texts in section I and some corresponding Latin texts in section II, then Middle English and Late Medieval Irish traditions in sections III and IV, before providing some tentative conclusions.