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Vol II No. 5

"Worship in Scarred Spaces": AGONISM in the Prayer Book and the Formation of an Anglican Identity

by
Dr. D.N. Keane

One of the few surviving medieval rood screens in England is found in a 14th-century church dedicated to St. Michael, in the hamlet of Irstead, Norfolk. The screen consists of four wooden panels brightly painted with three saints each – all defaced. St. Michael, Irstead was not unique; many of the surviving medieval English church paintings and stained glass of saints and angels are similarly marred. The removal of images from churches during the Edwardine and Elizabethan period was rarely complete. In many cases only the faces and hands of human figures were obliterated. But why would that be? Would it not be better to erase all memory of the religious practices and beliefs that were then condemned as idolatrous? Most Tudor iconoclasm was carefully managed by lawful authority and, as Pamela Graves demonstrated, was quite targeted and symbolic.1C. Pamela Graves, “From an Archaeology of Iconoclasm to an Anthropology of the Body:
Images, Punishment, and Personhood in England, 1500–1660.” Current Anthropology 49, no. 1
(2008):

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