[ Issue 26 ]

Tittivillus holds a lot of interest for Emily Bronto

Allow Bikwil to bring to light the enjoyment to be had from Tittivillus


Fizzgig passes on a medieval history lesson.  It's all about Tittivillus.

For God's sake, stop that mumbling.

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From the Back Verandah ó Fizzgig


Iíve just had another history lesson ó this time in Medieval monastic history.

It would seem that in the monasteries and nunneries the monks and nuns, being human, sometimes found it hard going saying their offices.

Itís not difficult to see why.

With up to seven offices a day, the night one being required at 2 am, sleepiness and carelessness could easily take over. The result was a tendency to gabble the plainsong or mumble the reading. In this the monks were worse than the nuns.

In desperation, the Church ended up defining a special little demon named Tittivillus, whose sole mission was to go round collecting in a ďpokeĒ (a sack) every such dropped or slurred syllable. When Judgment Day came around, his evidence would be tendered to help weigh the individual destiny of those in holy orders.

But his duties didnít stop there. According to social historian Eileen Power, in her 1924 Medieval People,

. . . when he was not engaged in picking up those unconsidered trifles which the monks let fall from their psalms, Tittivillus used to fill up odd corners of his sack with idle talk of people who gossiped in church; and he also sat up aloft and collected all the high notes of vain tenors, who sang to their own glory, instead of to the glory of God, and pitched the chants three notes higher than the cracked voices of their elders could rise.

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