Sex, Sin, and Salvation: A Case Study of the Narrative Pictorial Cycle of Saint Mary the Egyptian at Bourges Cathedral


Justin Sewell

Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

School of Art and Art History, College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences


Stained glass windows, France, Bourges, Saint Mary of Egypt, Sex, Religious aspects, Christianity


This paper studies the narrative stained glass cycle of the Life of Saint Mary the Egyptian at Bourges Cathedral within the context of prevailing—and often conflicting--civil and ecclesiastical attitudes toward sex, sexual sin, and prostitution in early thirteenth century France. Although the Church maintained that sexual sin was mortal sin, civil records suggest the public was skeptical. Through the example of a penitent harlot, this window, both structurally and in thematic content, attempts to map a doctrinally appropriate path from sexual sin to purity of spirit—and salvation—through complete submission to the Church and its clergy.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

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