Social display and charity

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Fifteenth-century statue of Our Lady of Dublin, Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Devotion (and donations) to sacred images seems to have been quite common.

Fifteenth-century statue of Our Lady of Dublin, Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Devotion (and donations) to sacred images seems to have been quite common.

People gave to religious or charitable causes in the Middle Ages for a variety of reasons—sometimes because they were devout, but also to acquire the social status that went with visible donations. John Gogh died in late 1472, and in his will requested burial in Christ Church Cathedral. He donated a missal to the cathedral, gave 3s 8d to its canons, and also set aside ten shillings for the celebration of his Month’s Mind. Alice Cassell of Lusk died several months later. Like Gosh, she left ten shillings for her Month’s Mind, as well as 2s 8d to the church at Lusk and a shilling each to the priests William Norreys and William Bermyngham. Cassell seems to have had a particular attachment to a devotional statue in the church—she set aside money for the purchase of a robe for a statue of Mary. Devotion to sacred images seems to have been quite common. On John Brown’s death in 1482 he left two shillings to the image of Mary of Swordlestown; Phillip Tailor left a shilling in 1475 to the sacred image of St Katherine at Lusk.

Donation to an order of friars was a popular choice, because friars were known for their charitable work in the community. There were four such orders in medieval Dublin: the Dominicans, whose house was located where the Four Courts now stands; the Franciscans on Francis Street; the Carmelites on Aungier Street; and the Augustinians on Cecilia Street. Peter Higely gave 6s 8d to each order; Walter Sale requested burial in the Franciscans’ church and gave the same amount to each group; Thomas Outlawe of Ballymadun gave eight shillings to the friars of Drogheda for the good of his and his father’s souls.

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