Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, January 31, 2005

A Choir Beyond the Ninth

Brendan glimpses a church with ten choirs (in the C/H version) or, as (the) M/N (version) has it, a town/citadel with twelve choirs or doors. The latter image is probably based on representations of the heavenly Jerusalem, which was, according to the Bible, the holy city with 12 gates which the apostle saw coming down out of heaven from God, “having the glory of God, and the light thereof was like to a precious stone” (Apoc. 21:11). The ten choirs in C/H probably refer to the traditional order of the heavenly hosts, which was supposed to have 9 choirs consisting of angels and a tenth of human beings. According to this doctrine, God created men to replace the group of angels associated with Lucifer, who were banished from heaven. The saints and the just were to take the places of the fallen angels. In the 12th century this was a commonly held idea. It can be found in the Elucidarium (early 12th century), a guide to salvationi in the form of a dialogue between a master and a pupil.

- Clara Strijbosch, The Seafaring Saint 111-12


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