Florilegia

For centuries, writing and the written word have been understood as a way of cultivating the soul’s health.  Through the Middle Ages, as an aid to memory and learning, Christians preserved the classical practice of producing florilegia, books in which readers gathered together the blossoms of insight that authors had cultivated elsewhere.  Preachers and professors alike made use of these collections of wise sayings in their preparation for writing, teaching, and preaching.  Additionally, those collections, and the selections of texts they wove together served as a means of cultivating one’s heart and mind spiritually.  Those who created the books employed a variety of organizing principles, but on occasion readers were left free to browse them like deer do fields.  No single pattern had to order every reading.