Chapter 9 Physical Disability and Bodily Difference

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections
Author: Jenni Kuuliala

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Healings of prolonged disabilities were among the most common types of recorded miracles. This chapter analyses disability as a social and cultural phenomenon based on testimonies recorded in canonization processes portraying such cures. First, the varying terminology used of different bodies that were considered to need a cure is discussed. The second part of the chapter analyses the aspects of the relationship between people with infirm or different bodies and the community that were portrayed in the testimonies and their significance in the social and the hagiographic context. The third part discusses the ways emotions were used in the testimonies to portray various aspects of disability and how that interlinks with the communication with the saints. Canonization process testimonies are an illuminating and valuable source for the social history of medicine, but their genre and its characteristics also set the borders to the level of detail that can be drawn from them.