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Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Ava

German poetess, the first woman known to have written in German

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Ava, a German poetess, the first woman known to have written in German and probably identical with a recluse of that name who died in Austria in the vicinity of Melk, A.D. 1127. Almost nothing is known of her life or personality. She herself tells us in a passage in her work that she was the mother of two sons who helped her in procuring the material for her poems. These poems are metrical versions of stories from the New Testament and consist of a “Life of Jesus”, “Antichrist“, “The Gifts of the Holy Ghost“, “The Last Judgment”, and “John the Baptist”. They are preserved in two manuscripts, one at Verona, the other at Gorlitz. The “John the Baptist” is found only in the latter manuscript. Ava’s authorship of this poem, as well as that of the “Life of Jesus” has been questioned, but hardly on sufficient grounds. The poems are naive in tone and display deeply religious sentiments, but, except for occasional passages, they are destitute of poetic merit. Their technique is often crude, assonance taking the place of rhyme and alliteration being not infrequent. The chief source from which Ava drew her material was the New Testament, but she also made use of older German poems, and possibly other writings such as the Apocryphal Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior by the Pseudo-Matthew.

ARTHUR F.J. REMY


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