The works of mercy counseled for Christians were codified in the Middle Ages as numbering seven: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, giving shelter to the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and burying the dead. At Pickering the series of works appear as a horizontal sequence stretching over the arches of the south nave.
Pickering, south nave, Seven Works of Mercy, c. 1450 © Raguin/MMK
Pickering, south nave, Giving Food and Drink, Works of Mercy: © Raguin/MMK.
Pickering, south nave, Visiting the Sick, Works of Mercy: © Raguin/MMK.
Pickering, south nave, Burying the Dead, Works of Mercy: © Raguin/MMK.
For comparison, see stained glass window of the Works of Mercy, 1410, All Saints, North Street, York
For the Seven Works of Mercy see the catechism issued in Latin and English versions by William Thoresby, archbishop of York. Both are dated from his manor of Cawood, November 25, 1357. The Lay Folks' Catechism, ed. Thomas F. Simmons, and Henry E Nolloth (London: Early English Texts Series, 1901), 70.
The feerthe thing
of the sex to knaw god almighten,
That us behouves fulfill in al that we mai,
Is the seven dedis of merci until our even-cristen
That god sal reherce us opon the dai of dome,
And whit how we haf done tham here in this lyfe,
Als saint matheu mas mynde in his godspell.
Of whilk the
first is to fede tham that er hungry.
That other, for to gif tham drynk that er thirsty.
The third, for to clethe tham that er clatheless
The ferthe is to herber tham that er houseless.
The fifte, for visite tham that ligges in sekenesse.
The sext, is to help tham that in prison er.
The sevent, to bery dede man that has mister.