María de San José Salazar (1548-1603) took the veil as a Discalced ("barefoot") Carmelite nun in 1571, becoming one of Teresa of Avila's most important collaborators in religious reform and serving as prioress of the Seville and Lisbon convents. Within the parameters of the strict Catholic Reformation in Spain, María fiercely defended women's rights to define their own spiritual experience and to teach, inspire, and lead other women in reforming their church.
María wrote this book as a defense of the Discalced practice of setting aside two hours each day for conversation, music, and staging of religious plays. Casting the book in the form of a dialogue, María demonstrates through fictional conversations among a group of nuns during their hours of recreation how women could serve as very effective spiritual teachers for each other. The book includes one of the first biographical portraits of Teresa and Maria's personal account of the troubled founding of the Discalced convent at Seville, as well as her tribulations as an Inquisitional suspect. Rich in allusions to women's affective relationships in the early modern convent, Book for the Hour of Recreation also serves as an example of how a woman might write when relatively free of clerical censorship and expectations.
A detailed introduction and notes by Alison Weber provide historical and biographical context for Amanda Powell's fluid translation.
Confessions is a spiritual autobiography of Augustine’s early life, family, associations, and explorations of alternative religious and theological viewpoints as he moved toward his conversion. Cast as a prayer addressed to God, it offers a gripping personal story and a philosophical exploration destined to have broad and lasting impact.
This work, which forms an important bridge between medieval and Counter-Reformation sanctity and canonization, provides a richly contextualized analysis of the ways in which the last five candidates for sainthood before the Reformation came to be canonized.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, the cult of the saints was the dominant form of religion in Christian Europe. In this elegantly written work, Peter Brown explores the role of tombs, shrines, relics, and pilgrimages connected with the sacred bodies of the saints. He shows how men and women living in harsh and sometimes barbaric times relied upon the merciful intercession of the holy dead to obtain justice, forgiveness, and to find new ways to accept their fellows. Challenging the common treatment of the cult as an outbreak of superstition among the lower classes, Brown demonstrates how this form of religiousity engaged the finest minds of the Church and elicited from members of the educated upper classes some of their most splendid achievements in poetry, literature, and the patronage of the arts.
"Brown has an international reputation for his fine style, a style he here turns on to illuminate the cult of the saints. Christianity was born without such a cult; it took rise and that rise needs chronicling. Brown has a gift for the memorable phrase and sees what the passersby have often overlooked. An eye-opener on an important but neglected phase of Western development."—The Christian Century
"Brilliantly original and highly sophisticated . . . . [The Cult of the Saints] is based on great learning in several disciplines, and the story is told with an exceptional appreciation for the broad social context. Students of many aspects of medieval culture, especially popular religion, will want to consult this work."—Bennett D. Hill, Library Journal
In this groundbreaking work, Peter Brown explores how the worship of saints and their corporeal remains became central to religious life in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. During this period, earthly remnants served as a heavenly connection, and their veneration is a fascinating window into the cultural mood of a region in transition.
Brown challenges the long-held “two-tier” idea of religion that separated the religious practices of the sophisticated elites from those of the superstitious masses, instead arguing that the cult of the saints crossed boundaries and played a dynamic part in both the Christian faith and the larger world of late antiquity. He shows how men and women living in harsh and sometimes barbaric times relied upon the holy dead to obtain justice, forgiveness, and power, and how a single sainted hair could inspire great thinkers and great artists.
An essential text by one of the foremost scholars of European history, this expanded edition includes a new preface from Brown, which presents new ideas based on subsequent scholarship.
Festal Letters 13-30
St. Cyril of Alexandria Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress BR65.C952E5 2009 | Dewey Decimal 270.2092
Twenty-nine in all, these letters cover all but three of Cyril's years as a bishop. The first twelve were published in 2009 (Fathers of the Church 118). The present volume completes the set. Festal letters were used in Alexandria primarily to announce the beginning of Lent and the date of Easter. They also served a catechetical purpose, however, allowing the Patriarch an annual opportunity to write pastorally not just about issues facing the entire see, but also about the theological issues of the day.
Although there are several studies dedicated to the lives of Francis and Clare of Assisi, Gilberto Cavazos-González’s Greater Than a Mother’s Love is the first to investigate their spirituality in the context of family relationships. He delves into the writings of Francis and Clare and illustrates how both used observations of their various human relationships to understand their experiences with God. Accompanying this study is an exhaustive bibliography and several appendices that enhance this unique treatment of these two beloved and admired religious figures.
Rudolph M. Bell University of Chicago Press, 1985 Library of Congress BX4656.B45 1985 | Dewey Decimal 305.90824
Is there a resemblance between the contemporary anorexic teenager counting every calorie in her single-minded pursuit of thinness, and an ascetic medieval saint examining her every desire? Rudolph M. Bell suggests that the answer is yes.
"Everyone interested in anorexia nervosa . . . should skim this book or study it. It will make you realize how dependent upon culture the definition of disease is. I will never look at an anorexic patient in the same way again."—Howard Spiro, M.D., Gastroenterology
"[This] book is a first-class social history and is well-documented both in its historical and scientific portions."—Vern L. Bullough, American Historical Review
"A significant contribution to revisionist history, which re-examines events in light of feminist thought. . . . Bell is particularly skillful in describing behavior within its time and culture, which would be bizarre by today's norms, without reducing it to the pathological."—Mary Lassance Parthun, Toronto Globe and Mail
"Bell is both enlightened and convincing. His book is impressively researched, easy to read, and utterly fascinating."—Sheila MacLeod, New Statesman
Holy Men of Mount Athos
Richard P. H. Greenfield Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress BX393.H64 2016 | Dewey Decimal 271.81949565
Mount Athos was the most famous center of Byzantine monasticism and remains the spiritual heart of the Orthodox Church today. Holy Men of Mount Athos presents the lives of five holy men who lived there at different times, from the ninth century to the last decades of the Byzantine period in the early fifteenth century.
In the Roman and Byzantine Near East, the holy fool emerged in Christianity as a way of describing individuals whose apparent madness allowed them to achieve a higher level of spirituality. Youval Rotman examines how the figure of the mad saint or mystic was used as a means of individual and collective transformation prior to the rise is Islam.
Before the Renaissance and Reformation, holy images were treated not as
"art" but as objects of veneration which possessed the tangible presence
of the Holy. In this magisterial book, Hans Belting traces the long
history of the sacral image and its changing role in European culture. Likeness and Presence looks at the beliefs, superstitions, hopes,
and fears that come into play as people handle and respond to sacred
images, and presents a compelling interpretation of the place of the
image in Western history.
"A rarity within its genre—an art-historical analysis of iconography
which is itself iconoclastic. . . . One of the most intellectually
exciting and historically grounded interpretations of Christian
iconography." —Graham Howes, Times Literary Supplement
"Likeness and Presence offers the best source to survey the facts of
what European Christians put in their churches. . . . An impressively
detailed contextual analysis of medieval objects." —Robin Cormack, New York Times Book Review
"I cannot begin to describe the richness or the imaginative grandeur of
Hans Belting's book. . . . It is a work that anyone interested in art,
or in the history of thought about art, should regard as urgent reading.
It is a tremendous achievement."—Arthur C. Danto, New Republic
In this original study of the making of saintly reputations, Aviad M. Kleinberg shows how sainthood, though frequently seen as a personal trait, is actually the product of negotiations between particular individuals and their communities. Employing the methods of history, anthropology, and textual criticism, Kleinberg examines the mechanics of sainthood in daily interactions between putative saints and their audiences. This book will interest historians, anthropologists, sociologists, medievalists, and those interested in the study of religion.
"[A] fascinating and sometimes iconoclastic view of saints in the medieval period." —Sandra R. O'Neal, Theological Studies
"[An] important new book. . . . [And] an excellent piece of scholarship." —Diane L. Mockridge, Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
"[Kleinberg's] style is clear and accessible and his observations insightful; the book is a pleasure to read." —Veronica Lawrence, Theological Book Review
"Original and interesting. . . . [Kleinberg] has made a major contribution." —Anne L. Clark, American Historical Review
"Kleinberg's concern is not just with perceptions of sanctity, but, refreshingly, with what actually happened: and he is especially good on the conflict of the two. . . . [This] is not just a book but a way of thought, and one that promises interesting conversations at all levels from the church porch to the tutorial and the academic conference." —Helen Cooper, Times Literary Supplement
Queenship and Sanctity brings together for the first time in English the anonymous Lives of Mathilda and Odilo of Cluny's Epitaph of Adelheid. Richly annotated, with an extensive introduction placing the texts and their subjects in historical and hagiographical context, it provides teachers and students with a crucial set of sources for the history of Europe (particularly Germany) in the tenth and eleventh centuries, for the development of sacred biography and medieval notions of sanctity, and for the life of aristocratic and royal women in the early Middle Ages.
In Reading Medieval Latin with the Legend of Barlaam and Josaphat, Donka D. Markus offers comprehensive commentary on the 13th-century Dominican theologian Jacobus de Voragine’s retelling of the ancient story of the life of the Buddha that will resonate with contemporary students of Latin.
Jacobus’s version of the legend serves as a compelling, original Latin text. Vividly conveyed through parables, fables, and anecdotes, it naturally lends itself to a critical consideration of ethical principles and philosophical truths commonly shared across many cultures. With its rich stylistic devices and authentic classical Latin word order, it provides superb training for reading rhetorical prose before advancing to the works of more complex classical prose authors. At the same time, the text offers a unique opportunity for systematically learning the special features of Late and Medieval Latin. Included in this volume are two presentations of Jacobus’s text: one maintaining the original orthography reflecting Latin as it appears in medieval manuscripts, and one in which the orthography follows Classical Latin norms.
This textbook is designed for intermediate-level learners of Classical or Medieval Latin, whether in college, high school, or by self-directed study. The 5,000-word narrative text lends itself to a semester-long experience of reading one continuous work of prose. Each of the legend’s embedded stories can also be read as an independent selection with the help of the ample commentary, vocabulary, and grammar guidance. The extensive introduction provides the necessary background to contextualize the legend in its Latin iteration and sufficient historical information to make the reading meaningful for those without prior knowledge of Buddhism or medieval history. Additionally, this work makes Latin attractive to students of diverse backgrounds, as it highlights the language’s important role in disseminating the universally shared cultural legacy of humanity.
Revised and updated edition of the perennial Georgetown University Press classic, Saints of the Liturgical Year, this beautiful and comfortably sized guide is compact, but brimming with information. This edition includes over 260 brief biographies, including 33 new entries, as well as a glossary of terms to help explain the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. Based on the General Roman Calendar, presently in use in the Roman Catholic Church, it also includes the feasts, Saints, and Blesseds from the Liturgical Calendar of the Society of Jesus—known as the Jesuits—as officially observed within the Society of Jesus.
Offering inspiration and encouragement, Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year functions as an aid in introducing the faithful to the day's feast or to the saint whose memorial is being celebrated. As a gift, for personal or group study, and helpful for introducing parishioners to the history of the church, this book can also be used as a source of ideas for all pastors.
In Saints and Society, Donald Weinstein and Rudolph M. Bell examine the lives of 864 saints who lived between 1000 and 1700 and the perceptions of sanctity prevalent in late medieval and early modern Europe. They also provide a substantial body of information on the people among whom the saints lived and by whom they came to be venerated. In the first part, the authors give close consideration to what the saints' lives reveal about childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; the impact of religious inspiration upon family bonds; and family influences upon religious behavior. The second part provides a composite picture of piety and its changing configuration in Latin Christendom. With the assistance of statistical analysis, the authors answer questions involving the popular perception of holiness, social class, and gender.
Saints: Faith without Borders
Edited by Françoise Meltzer and Jas Elsner University of Chicago Press, 2011 Library of Congress BX2325.S25 2011 | Dewey Decimal 282.0922
While the modern world has largely dismissed the figure of the saint as a throwback, we remain fascinated by excess, marginality, transgression, and porous subjectivity—categories that define the saint. In this collection, Françoise Meltzer and Jas Elsner bring together top scholars from across the humanities to reconsider our denial of saintliness and examine how modernity returns to the lure of saintly grace, energy, and charisma.
Addressing such problems as how saints are made, the use of saints by political and secular orders, and how holiness is personified, Saints takes us on a photo tour of Graceland and the cult of Elvis and explores the changing political takes on Joan of Arc in France. It shows us the self-fashioning of culture through the reevaluation of saints in late-antique Judaism and Counter-Reformation Rome, and it questions the political intent of underlying claims to spiritual attainment of a Muslim sheikh in Morocco and of Sephardism in Israel. Populated with the likes of Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, and Padre Pio, this book is a fascinating inquiry into the status of saints in the modern world.
Spanish American civilization developed over several generations as Iberian-born settlers and their "New World" descendants adapted Old World institutions, beliefs, and literary forms to diverse American social contexts. Like their European forebears, criollos—descendants of Spanish immigrants who called the New World home—preserved the memory of persons of extraordinary Roman Catholic piety in a centuries-old literary form known as the saint's Life. These criollo religious biographies reflect not only traditional Roman Catholic values but also such New World concerns as immigration, racial mixing, and English piracy. Ronald Morgan examines the collective function of the saint's Life from 1600 to the end of the colonial period, arguing that this literary form served not only to prove the protagonist’s sanctity and move the faithful to veneration but also to reinforce sentiments of group pride and solidarity. When criollos praised americano saints, he explains, they also called attention to their own virtues and achievements. Morgan analyzes the printed hagiographies of five New World holy persons: Blessed Sebastián de Aparicio (Mexico), St. Rosa de Lima (Peru), St. Mariana de Jesús (Ecuador), Catarina de San Juan (Mexico), and St. Felipe de Jesús (Mexico). Through close readings of these texts, he explores the significance of holy persons as cultural and political symbols. By highlighting this convergence of religious and sociopolitical discourse, Morgan sheds important light on the growth of Spanish American self-consciousness and criollo identity formation. By focusing on the biographical process itself, Morgan demonstrates the importance of reading each hagiographic text for its idiosyncrasies rather than its conventional features. His work offers new insight into the Latin American cult of saints, inviting scholars to look beyond the isolated lives of individuals to the cultural and social milieus in which their sanctity originated and their public reputations took shape.
Spirituality, Gender, and the Self in Renaissance Italy places St. Angela Merici and her Company of St. Ursula in historical and religious context and examines them from a variety of perspectives: institutional, social, spiritual, and cultural.
Tears and Saints
E. M. Cioran University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress B105.S79C5613 1995 | Dewey Decimal 235.2
By the mid-1930s, Emil Cioran was already known as a leader of a new generation of politically committed Romanian intellectuals. Researching another, more radical book, Cioran was spending hours in a library poring over the lives of saints. As a modern hagiographer, Cioran "dreamt" himself "the chronicler of these saints' falls between heaven and earth, the intimate knower of the ardors in their hearts, the historian of God's insomniacs." Inspired by Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, Cioran "searched for the origin of tears." He asked himself if saints could be "the sources of tears' better light."
"Who can tell?" he wrote in the first paragraph of this book, first published in Romania in 1937. "To be sure, tears are their trace. Tears did not enter the world through the saints; but without them we would never have known that we cry because we long for a lost paradise." By following in their traces, "wetting the soles of one's feet in their tears," Cioran hoped to understand how a human being can renounce being human. Written in Cioran's characteristic aphoristic style, this flamboyant, bold, and provocative book is one of his most important—and revelatory—works.
Cioran focuses not on martyrs or heroes but on the mystics—primarily female—famous for their keening spirituality and intimate knowledge of God. Their Christianity was anti-theological, anti-institutional, and based solely on intuition and sentiment. Many, such as Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Saint John of the Cross, have produced classic works of mystical literature; but Cioran celebrates many more minor and unusual figures as well.
Following Nietzsche, he focuses explicitly on the political element hidden in saints' lives. In his hands, however, their charitable deeds are much less interesting than their thirst for pain and their equally powerful capacity to endure it. Behind their suffering and their uncanny ability to renounce everything through ascetic practices, Cioran detects a fanatical will to power.
"Like Nietzsche, Cioran is an important religious thinker. His book intertwines God and music with passion and tears. . . . [Tears and Saints] has a chillingly contemporary ring that makes this translation important here and now."—Booklist
As war, pestilence, and famine spread through Europe in the Middle Ages, so did reports of miracles, of hopeless victims wondrously saved from disaster. These "rescue miracles," recorded by over one hundred fourteenth-century cults, are the basis of Michael Goodich's account of the miraculous in everyday medieval life.
Rescue miracles offer a wide range of voices rarely heard in medieval history, from women and children to peasants and urban artisans. They tell of salvation not just from the ravages of nature and war, but from the vagaries of a violent society—crime, unfair judicial practices, domestic squabbles, and communal or factional conflict. The stories speak to a collapse of confidence in decaying institutions, from the law to the market to feudal authority. Particularly, the miraculous escapes documented during the Hundred Years' War, the Italian communal wars, and other conflicts are vivid testimony to the end of aristocratic warfare and the growing victimization of noncombatants.
Miracles, Goodich finds, represent the transcendent and unifying force of faith in a time of widespread distress and the hopeless conditions endured by the common people of the Middle Ages. Just as the lives of the saints, once dismissed as church propaganda, have become valuable to historians, so have rescue miracles, as evidence of an underlying medieval mentalite. This work expands our knowledge of that state of mind and the grim conditions that colored and shaped it.
My sister Angelina knows all about my things. This morning she was talking about my things like they were no big deal; and my brother was making fun of them together with her. I'm not afraid of their jokes, you know? . . . My sister even brought her classmates to the house, and she tells them this, just to make fun of me: "Come, let's go see Gemma go in ecstasy."
Gemma Galgani was the first person who lived in the twentieth century to become a saint. Born in Lucca to a pharmacist and his wife, Gemma died of tuberculosis at the young age of twenty-five after a life of intense personal spirituality. Jesus caressed her as lovers do; the Virgin Mary was her affectionate Mom; Brother Gabriel playfully teased her about whether she preferred his visits to those of Jesus; and she even received all of Christ's wounds in her hands, feet, and side. At the same time, she was mocked by her family and labeled a hysteric by doctors and the local bishop. Her trials and the intimate details of her supernatural encounters—the voices of Gemma Galgani—are revealed here in this marvelous book by Rudolph M. Bell and Cristina Mazzoni.
Bell and Mazzoni have chosen and translated the most important of Gemma's words: her autobiographical account of her childhood, her diary, and key selections from her "ecstasies" and letters. Gemma emerges as a very modern saint indeed: confident, grandiose, manipulative, childish, admired, and with this book, no longer forgotten. Following Gemma's own voice, Bell carefully contextualizes her life and passion and explores her afterlife, specifically the complicated process of her canonization. Mazzoni closes the book with a "Saint's Alphabet" that finds, through Gemma's voice, spiritual meaning for women in the twenty-first century.
Far more than the reinvigoration of a neglected historical figure, The Voices of Gemma Galgani is a portrait of a complex girl-woman caught between the medieval and the modern and a potent reminder of spirituality in a supposedly secular age.