Chapter 12 Escaping Justice?

The Politics of Liberation Miracles in Late Medieval Portugal

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections
Author: Iona McCleery

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This chapter is an exploration of the many non-healing miracles found in medieval shrine collections and canonization processes, with a particular focus on a set of liberation miracles recorded for late medieval Portugal. The first part defines what is meant by “non-healing” miracles and discusses some methodological difficulties; the second part considers non-healing miracles in the context of the Portuguese cult of the saints. The last part of the chapter provides a case study of protection miracles from the cult of Our Lady of Virtues, focusing on liberation from prison or escape from execution. The argument of the chapter is that non-healing miracles are highly political in nature, but rather than being signs of disorder, they reinforced existing standards and norms. Such miracles are guides to ideal behaviour and performances of power that shed considerable light on medieval Portuguese criminal justice.