That’s a, very important thing – this meant that the Catholic Christian of the Middle Ages was aware of a continuation from the Biblical times and even the Old Testament period and even before that, going back to Adam and Noah, through all history, always represented by great individuals who are not interesting as individuals but as representatives of the tradition and the spirit in which the people lived. This seems to me more important than the superstitious use of these individuals as objects of prayer, if they had become saints. The holy legend was a reality which, like nature, was something in which one lived. It is a reality in which the living tradition expresses itself symbolically. And those of you who have some interest in religious art will see that up to Giotto, the great figures of medieval art are not so much individuals but representatives of the Divine presence in a special event or a special form and character.
3) The sixth of the religious forces: the popular and superstitious forms of daily piety.
These forms are, if we call “superstitious” everything in which a finite reality identifies itself with the Divine. And such superstitions permeate the whole Middle Ages. One of them was the relics of the saints, or from Christ’s life. Another was the ever-repeated miracles. Another was the kinds of holy objects, which were not used as pointers to, but as powers of, the Divine in themselves.
But this had also the positive element that it consecrated the daily life. Now let me give you this in a picture. You come into a medieval town – you have not this occasion; but if you ever have it abroad, e. g., take the most accessible town, the town of Chartres. It is not only its cathedral which is important, which you must look at to understand the Middle-Ages, but also the way in which the cathedral stands, on the hill in the middle of the small town. It is a tremendous cathedral, overreaching the whole surrounding country. If you go into it, you find symbols of the daily life in the Church – the nobility, the craftsmen, the guilds, the different supporters of the Church – the whole daily life is within the walls of the cathedral, in a consecrated form. If you go into it, you have your daily represented in the sphere of the holy. If you go out of it, you take with you the consecration you have received in the cathedral, and take it with you into your daily lives. Now of course this is the positive side of it. The negative side is that this express itself, then, in the superstitious forms of poor pictures and sculptures and relics and the looking for new miracles, all forms of holy objects, etc.
7) The seventh and last: This also is of great importance: the experience of the demonic in the daily life of medieval man. This was something which with a kind of thrill one hears about in lectures on systematic theology here, from 9 to 10, or reads in some books of theologians – not earlier than 1930 – but it is something which was a reality of the daily life for these people. The vertical line which leads to the Divine also leads down to the demonic. And the demonic is a power which is present in the cathedral as conquered. The so-called exorcism, the driving out of the demonic, belongs to the daily practices in the cathedral. If you enter it, you spread yourself with holy water, which means that you have to purify yourself from the demonic forces which you bring with you from the daily life. Baptism is first of all exorcism of the demonic forces,,before the forgiveness of sins is possible. Demonic figures are seen supporting the weight of the churches – -which is perhaps the greatest symbol, – namely, the power of the Divine which conquers the power of the demonic within the daily life.