Thursday, June 17, 2010

Priestly Training Before Trent

I found this interesting chapter in a book online about the question of how priests were trained in the Middle Ages. It is not entirely satisfying, mainly because our sources are apparently quite sparse. We know about the University system, of course, and know somewhat about cathedral schools and houses of formation in cities. But of the training of the majority of medieval priests (the rural, parish priests) we know very little except that they seemed to have been trained in an apprenticeship and presented themselves to the bishop to be tested. To say the least, there seems to have been a much greater variety of models for training, and the bar does not seem to have been universally set as high (basic literacy seems to have been the main concern in some places, albeit that usually meant rudimentary Latin), though there was great variety and inconsistency.


Hoanyeon said...

Interesting. Apprenticeships versus seminaries. But how will this ensure the quality of priests better than the seminary system, which is already verkakte.

A Sinner said...

Oh, I'm not necessarily endorsing the medieval apprenticeship system (though it certainly might have a place for some people). I'm just saying the chapter was interesting in documenting a variety of training methods. Also, how the process needn't be so centralized or controlling.

Agostino Taumaturgo said...

"But how will this ensure the quality of priests better than the seminary system, which is already verkakte."

It won't. Just as the seminary system won't guarantee better quality priests than those who were educated by mentoring. Rather, I think of each system as having its own particular advantages and disadvantages.

As for me, I advocate a balance between formalized training and apprenticeship, and really don't see the two as being mutually exclusive. I think that could also help boost the advantages of both forms, while helping to blunt the effect fo the disadvantages.