Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things?: Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation
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From its earliest centuries, one of the most notable features of Christianity has been the veneration of the saints--the holy dead. This ambitious history tells the fascinating story of the cult of the saints from its origins in the second-century days of the Christian martyrs to the Protestant Reformation. Robert Bartlett examines all of the most important aspects of the saints--including miracles, relics, pilgrimages, shrines, and the saints' role in the calendar, literature, and art.
The book explores the central role played by the bodies and body parts of saints, and the special treatment these relics received. From the routes, dangers, and rewards of pilgrimage, to the saints' impact on everyday life, Bartlett's account is an unmatched examination of an important and intriguing part of the religious life of the past--as well as the present.
9 Adomnán, Vita Columbae; there is a rich and detailed commentary in Adomnan, Life of St. Columba, tr. Sharpe; see also Herbert, Iona, Kells, and Derry, pp. 134–50. 10 Adomnán, Vita Columbae, second preface, p. 6. 11 Ibid., 3. 15, p. 202. 12 Ibid., second preface, p. 6. 30 The Early Middle Ages century, and that phrase reflects the fact that the Celtic world had more local saints than any other Christian region.13 These numerous local saints were usually associated with one monastery or
greetings to St. Geneviève in distant Gaul (see earlier, p. 38). He took up permanent residence on top of a column near the Syrian monastery of Telanissus around the year 423, and, over the next three and a half decades, remained “mid-way between heaven and earthly things,”61 the only changes being his transfer to ever higher columns. The last was over 15 metres (fifty feet or so) tall; the space at the top has been estimated at between a metre and two metres (three feet and six feet) square.62
fairly continuously, from the ninth century to the twelfth.113 Here the record of the saint’s activities in defending the rights and property of his monks blends at times into a general history of the monastery and the locality. This is understandable: the cult-centre, with its shrine, relics, pilgrims, and hagiography, formed part of a monastic institution with wide traditions, liturgical, historical, and—importantly—proprietorial. The great Benedictine monasteries were natural centres of the
adopted Christianity in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Vikings had been predators on the churches of western Europe but now “the very great and Mostert, The Library of Fleury, p. 175; the MS is Orleans, BM 322 (273). Bernard of Angers, Liber miraculorum sancte Fidis; later, p. 482, on the image. 118 Cormack, The Saints in Iceland; Antonsson, “Saints and Relics in Early Christian Scandinavia”; Berend, ed., Christianization and the Rise of Christian Monarchy; Sanctity in the North: Saints Lives
200. 15 Rushforth, Saints in English Kalendars. 16 “Secgan be pam Godes sanctum pe on Engla lande ærost reston”: Die Heiligen Englands; for comment, see Rollason, “Lists of Saints’ Resting-Places in Anglo-Saxon England”; Blair, “A Saint for Every Minster?.” 13 14 141 chapter 7 Carolingian period, rich as it was in hagiographic writing about earlier saints, saw a “dearth of the living holy.”17 Geography of Sanctity Turning from chronology to geography, and starting with Vauchez’s small