Chapter 11 Death in a Birth Chamber

Birth Attendants as Expert Witnesses in the Canonization Process of Bernardino of Siena

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections
Jyrki Nissi
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In the canonization process of Bernardino of Siena there are four cases in which an infant is thought to be born dead but later revived by divine intervention. This chapter investigates the depositions given in these cases. The testimonies of birth miracle cases increase our knowledge on the use of expert witnesses in canonization processes. Like medical men’s testimonies in other cases, birth attendants’ testimonies were used to evidence that nothing but a miracle could have caused the recovery of an infant. The testimonies reveal to us how a community functioned and what the birth attendants’ strategies were if a birth did not go according to plan. The obstetrix had the main role during the birth but if it turned out to be a death moment other women or even men could step in and play an important role as they prayed for saint’s help.

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