Love in Religion: Three Helfta Visionaries: Regent’s Park College, Oxford, 11th-12th September 2020

Love in Religion: Three Helfta Visionaries: Regent’s Park College, Oxford, 11th-12th September 2020


This conference is the third phase of a larger project which began as a meeting of minds in July 2013 at the Medieval Translator Conference in Leuven and whose first aim is a new edition of the Middle English translation of Mechthild of Hackeborn’s Liber specialis gratiae. This new edition will be accompanied by a second volume of essays discussing various aspects of the Latin text and its vernacular translations.

Mechthild of Hackeborn (1241-1298) was a Benedictine nun at the famous convent of Helfta in Germany, which has been described as ‘a high-water mark of women’s mysticism’ (Barbara Newman). Its first abbess was none other than Mechthild’s own blood sister Gertude.

This aristocratic foundation attracted highly educated women, among whom was the beguine Mechthild of Magdeburg (1207-1282), who joined the convent in her old age, where she completed with the assistance of the nuns Das fließende Licht der Gottheit (The Flowing Light of the Godhead).

It is possible that under the influence of Mechthild of Magdeburg the nuns embarked on a collective project to write down Mechthild of Hackeborn’s revelations. One of the nuns involved was Gertrude the Great (1256-1302), the author of the perhaps better-known Legatus divinae pietatis (Herald of God’s Loving-Kindness).

This conference aims at gathering together international scholars from the U.K., Europe and elsewhere who are working on these texts today, and at producing a greater understanding of how the lives and works of these three visionaries influenced each other, developed from each other, reflected each other and, considering the great number of surviving copies of The Liber specialis gratiae, how they had an impact on future generations. It is also hoped that the discussions will encourage further research in this field.

The keynote lectures will be delivered by two world-renown experts in the field of mysticism: Professor Vincent Gillespie, J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, and Professor Barbara Newman, John Evans Professor of Latin, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University.

We welcome papers engaging with any aspects of the texts and the lives of these three visionaries, be it literary history, devotional literature, theology, gender studies, translation studies, etc. Early career scholars are particularly encouraged to apply.

Anyone interested in taking part should send an abstract of no more than 300 words to by 1st October 2019. Papers should be 20 to 25 minutes long. All proposals should include the following:

Full name
Email address
Current institution and / or academic affiliation
Academic degree / year of study
Title of paper
Proposal (not exceeding 300 words)

We hope to be able to offer limited bursaries to early career academics. Further details will be posted on the website in due course.

Organizing Committee:
Mark Atherton, Regent’s Park College, Oxford University
Anne Mouron, Regent’s Park College, Oxford University
Louise Nelstrop, York St John University / St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford University
Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa, Shizuoka University and Swansea University

Papers given at the International Consultation ‘Love in Religion: The Cutting-Edge Issues’ now available online

We are delighted to announce that several of the papers given at our International Consultation ‘Love in Religion: The Cutting-Edge Issues’, which took place in November 2016 at Regent’s Park College, are now available on this website, in our ‘Resources’ section.

These papers represent the insights of scholars from a range of religious traditions and academic disciplines, all responding to the question ‘What do you believe to be the “frontier” or “cutting-edge” research issues on the topic of the place of love – both divine and human – in religion, as seen from the perspective of your particular discipline?’

We will be posting more papers in the coming weeks – watch this space!

Book launch and discussion at Waterstones, London – Piccadilly on 27 March 2017

Waterstones book launch posterprince-ghazis-book-cover

Prof. HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad and Prof. Paul Fiddes spoke together at an event held at the Piccadilly branch of Waterstones bookshop in London, to mark the launch of Prince Ghazi’s new book, A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam: The Essence of Islam in Twelve Verses from the Quran. The speakers addressed the subject of love from their respective faith traditions, and introduced the audience to the project for ‘the Study of Love in Religion’ in Oxford. Continue reading “Book launch and discussion at Waterstones, London – Piccadilly on 27 March 2017”

International Consultation on ‘Love in Religion: The Cutting-Edge Issues’


The International Consultation on ‘Love in Religion: The Cutting-Edge Issues’ was held at Regent’s Park College, on 9-12 November 2016, with generous support from the John Templeton Foundation.

The Project’s purpose of this consultation was to bring together leading scholars from a
variety of disciplinary and religious backgrounds to identify the cutting-edge issues within the topic of love in religion Continue reading “International Consultation on ‘Love in Religion: The Cutting-Edge Issues’”

The Language of the Human and the Language of Love


The Language of the Human and the Language of Love: A Dialogue Between Neuroscience and Religion was held at Regent’s Park College on the 15th of October 2016. This colloquium was part of a two-day event held jointly by King’s College London and the Project for the Study of Love in Religion. Continue reading “The Language of the Human and the Language of Love”