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This chapter addresses the developments in the practicalities and documentation of the process of canonization from the high Middle Ages to the late medieval period. It starts with the discussion of the process of validating sainthood before the official process was introduced and in particular the importance the official Vita and the local bishops had in this process. Following this, Paciocco analyses the developments of the 12th and 13th centuries, which saw increasing influence of the Canon Law for the validation of sainthood and finally the development of the Roman-canonical procedure. After this, the chapter moves on to discuss the actual practicalities of cult promotion and recording of the process, also in its curial phase. The final part of the chapter discusses the later developments of the Avignon period and the 15th century. The analysis of the chapter demonstrates the uniform principles but varying practices behind the processes and the source material that derives from them.

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections
Author: Jyrki Nissi

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.

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

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.

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections

The miracle narratives of the early Dominican saints provide a window through which to view both the development of the Order of Preachers and the history of miracles and sainthood. This chapter studies the miracle narratives of Dominic, Peter of Verona, and Thomas Aquinas to trace the interactions between lay piety and the requirements of institutionally recognized sanctity. What appears is a mutually supportive dialogue between educated and non-educated Christians about incarnational holiness. By comparing Dominican works to those of the broader Church, we can come to a better understanding of the meanings of “miracle” and “holiness” in the period.

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections
In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections

In the medieval world, the diving line between an illness and spiritual state, demonic possession, was not always evident and many of the symptoms were similar. Both of them could be seen as outer forces attacking a victim. In some canonization processes an undisputable proof was required to categorize the disorder as supernatural, while in other hearings such a categorization seem to have been accepted quite willingly by the inquisitorial committee. A third group was constituted by those processes, where the diving line was not clear and apparently not important. Deliveries from malign spirits were never the most numerous manifestations of saintly powers. The societal changes during the late Middle Ages, like medicalization, reformation and clerical attempts to control the miraculous had their effect on the categorizations, but demonic possession was not one uncomplicated category -- to discern lived realities and personal experiences, to fully understand the phenomenon, one has to be sensitive to the nuances of various cases and contexts.

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections

This chapter focuses on the Lifes and canonization records of Saint Margaret of Hungary and establish and analyze various typologies of miracles. Her miracle records combine the narrative patterns of the earlier miracle tradition and the juridical nature of the processes and present a rich and unique picture of how miracles developed and were “used” in different social, monastic and literary contexts.

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections

Miracles played an important role in the medieval monasticism both as an element of broadly shared culture as well as specific aspect of monastic experience. Textually, visually and performatively, miracles were part of the tradition going back to the constructed origins of the early monasticism, but also a defence against internal and external threats and part of institutional identity. Miracles experienced, recorded and remembered by monks and nuns were an important medium to which diverse meanings were attached. This chapter focuses on environment of Benedictine and Cistercian communities between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries drawing on the material from Western and East Central Europe.

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections
Author: Jussi Hanska

The two genres of miracles and exempla are close relatives, and indeed, miracle stories were widely used as exemplum within model sermon collections and other preachers’ handbooks such as exemplum collections. When used as exempla, miracle stories were re-worked and abbreviated heavily to suit the need of a preacher. Once turned into an exemplum, popular miracle stories circulated from one model sermon collection to another and gained wider popularity. The most popular stories were circulated over several centuries, and consequently were preached live for generations of audiences effectively diffusing and strengthening the cult of the saint in question. The influence between preachers and their audiences was not a one-way street. Sometimes the preachers learned the miracle stories from the audiences, not the other way round.

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections

Dreams and visions of lay men and women were part of the negotiations between medieval clergy and laity on the accessibility of the divine to the latter. Crucial for such study is a keen understanding of how miracle accounts and their vision narratives are structured and how they might have been applied as means of communication. Focusing on the fifteenth-century Low Countries, this chapter proposes a narratological approach to narratives of vision, dream and thought showing that Middle Dutch miracle writers invested in emphasizing the subjective character of the experience by framing visionary experience as dream visions, a narrative type that outnumbered more direct forms of conscious, sensorial perception of saints (apparitions). The authors attributed dream visions with a quality of ‘thought’ experiences. This dream vision served as a kind of ‘narrative space’ in which visionary protagonists could have visual and audible contact with the supernatural in a way that was explicitly subjective and thus required caution

In: A Companion to Medieval Miracle Collections