This week is Anti-Bullying Week in UK schools, and our friends at Changing Faces have posted invaluable advice and guidance on challenging the culture of bullying here.
Bullying is of course not a new phenomenon, and took place in some surprising places. The thirteenth-century chronicle of Salimbene describes a monk named Aldevrandus who, he says, “had a deformed head in the shape of a helmet of the ancients, with copious hair on his forehead.” He suffered laughter from the brothers when his turn came to start the sung responses at prayer (when all eyes would have been on him). Aldevrandus, in Salimbene’s report, was certainly “disturbed and made to blush” by the ridicule of the other brothers, but his case is used by Salimbene to highlight the lessons of Christ’s humility before his persecutors.
Fortunately, it is the persecutors who are now seen in need of education, but Aldevrandus’s story perhaps provides a corrective to the idea of medieval monasteries as places of peace and harmony.