New Book – Saints, Cure-Seekers and Miraculous Healing in Twelfth-Century England by Ruth J. Salter

DESCRIPTION

Traces the journey from ill health to miraculous cure through the lens of hagiographical texts from twelfth-century England.
 
The cults of the saints were central to the medieval Church. These holy men and women acted as patrons and protectors to the religious communities who housed their relics and to the devotees who requested their assistance in petitioning God for a miracle. Among the collections of posthumous miracle stories, miracula, accounts of holy healing feature prominently and depict cure-seekers successfully securing their desired remedy for a range of ailments and afflictions. What can these miracle accounts tell us of the cure-seekers’ experiences of their journey from ill health to recovery, and how was healthcare presented in these sources?

This book aims to answer these questions via an in-depth study of the miraculous cure-seeking process, considering Latin miracle accounts produced in twelfth-century England, a time both when saints’ cults flourished and there was an increasing transmission and dissemination of classical and Arabic medical works. Focused on seven shorter miracula (including Eadmer of Canterbury’s Miracula S. Dunstani and Thomas of Monmouth’s Vita et Passione S. Wilelmi Martyris Norwicensis) with a predominantly localised appeal, and thus on a select group of cure-seekers – including Abbot Osbert of Notley who suffered from an eye complaint, Leofmær the bedridden knight, and Gaufrid who experienced a bad tooth extraction – the volume brings together studies of healthcare and pilgrimage, looking at the alternative to secular medical intervention and the practicalities and processes of securing saintly assistance.
 

CONTENTS

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Introduction
1 Miraculous Cures in Context: Twelfth-Century Medicine and the Saints
2 Holy Healing: An Analysis of the Ailments
3 The Great and the Good: Identifying the Cure-Seekers within the Miracles
4 From Near and Far: The Geography of the Cults and the Distance Travelled
5 The Road to Recovery: The Experience of Seeking Cure
6 Upon Arrival at the Shrine: Cure-Seekers and the Place of their Cure
Conclusion


Appendix 1: A List of the Named Cure-Seekers Within the Seven Miracula
Appendix 2: A List of the Occupations Recorded for Laypersons Within the Seven Miracula
Appendix 3: A List of the Place Names Recorded for Within Thomas of Monmouth’s M. Willelmi
Bibliography
Index

AUTHOR

RUTH J. SALTER is a Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Reading.

 

More information on the editor website

CFP – The Maladies, Miracles and Medicine of the Middle Ages III ‘Patients, Prayers and Pilgrims’ – org. by The Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Reading – Friday 1 April 2022

HeaIthcare in the Middle Age covered a broad range of practices, influenced by religious and scholarly theories of the body. Patients might look to a range of restorative practices from herbal remedies to more invasive procedures, not to mention charms and prayers. In their search for cure, they might also turn to various healers with practitioners ranging from high-end university-trained physicians, to local wise women, and even the ‘saintly physicians’ whose form of miraculous care emanated from the shrines. Healing could thus be sought through a variety of channels that both complemented and competed against one another.

What can we leam about those who engaged with medieval healthcare? Where do the various forms of healthcare sit in relation to each other and in relation to religious and/or academic understanding of corporeal health? In what ways were the ill and impaired able to access healing, and what form did this take?

Within the third ‘Maladies, Miracles and Medicine’ of this quadrennial series of conferences we invite post-graduate and early-career researchers to come together to consider this theme in relation to health, ill health, and healing. The conference welcomes papers on all aspects of this theme whether your interests lie in archaeology, art, literature, medicine and science, or mireacles and theology (or a little bit of everything).

However, specific themes to consider are:

  • environments and experiences of care and recovery
  • gender in relation to practices and treatments
  • practitioners and particular treatrnents within medieval healthcare
  • pilgrims as ‘patients’, saints as ‘healers’
  • the senses and sensory experiences of ill health and cure
  • birth, death (and everything in between!)
  • healing charms and magical medicine
  • representations and realities of the ill and healthy body

Proposals of 200-words (max.) for twenty-minute papers fitting broadly into one of the above themes are welcomed from all post-graduate and early-career researchers before the deadline 10 January 2022.

Proposals and further enquiries should be sent to the organisers (Dr Ruth Salter, Anne Jeavons, and Claire Collins) via: maladies.miracles.medicine@gmail.com. Full details will be released closer to the date, but we are hoping this will be able to go ahead in person rather than online.