Sermons were not just a tool used by the Church to indoctrinate the laity; they played a central part in medieval social life. They drew community gatherings attended by people from all walks of life who would socialize in addition to receive the word of God.

Preachers utilized various techniques to engage their audience, a degree of entertainment being an accepted element of medieval sermons. They incorporated jokes, proverbs, and exempla taken from local culture into their sermons. For example, this particular book of sermons (written by Franciscan preacher Antonio da Vercelli) contains many exempla drawn from classical sources—it references Socrates’ imprisonment as an exemplum for patience, for example. This reflects the humanistic education of many of the mendicants and laypeople of late medieval Italy.

Moreover, this manuscript includes a passage that addresses the Jews, encouraging them to convert by providing exempla of non-Christians who converted, such as St. Helena. This reflects how Jews were occasionally compelled to attend medieval sermons.

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