Miracle Cures: Saints, Pilgrimage, and the Healing Powers of Belief

Overview


Iconic images of medieval pilgrims, such as Chaucer’s making their laborious way to Canterbury, conjure a distant time when faith was the only refuge of the ill and infirm, and thousands traveled great distances to pray for healing. Why, then, in an age of advanced biotechnology and medicine, do millions still go on pilgrimages? Why do journeys to important religious shrines—such as Lourdes, Compostela, Fátima, and Medjugorje—constitute a major industry? In Miracle Cures, Robert A. Scott explores these ...
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Miracle Cures: Saints, Pilgrimage, and the Healing Powers of Belief

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Overview


Iconic images of medieval pilgrims, such as Chaucer’s making their laborious way to Canterbury, conjure a distant time when faith was the only refuge of the ill and infirm, and thousands traveled great distances to pray for healing. Why, then, in an age of advanced biotechnology and medicine, do millions still go on pilgrimages? Why do journeys to important religious shrines—such as Lourdes, Compostela, Fátima, and Medjugorje—constitute a major industry? In Miracle Cures, Robert A. Scott explores these provocative questions and finds that pilgrimage continues to offer answers for many. Its benefits can range from a demonstrable improvement in health to complete recovery. Using research in biomedical and behavioral science, Scott examines accounts of miracle cures at medieval, early modern, and contemporary shrines. He inquires into the power of relics, apparitions, and the transformative nature of sacred journeying and shines new light on the roles belief, hope, and emotion can play in healing.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An intellectually fascinating book, Scott's treatment will be eye-opening for students of history, theology, and human nature."—Library Journal

"Refreshing . . . objective and scholarly. . . . Fascinating it its depth, thoroughness, and detailed accounts of medieval life, the book is a good read."—Science (Aaas)

"Erudite and engaging."—Times News (Lehighton, Pa)

"The author carefully weaves detailed textual and historiographic work with the latest social scientific findings. . . . extremely valuable. . . . It represents a sophisticated integration of historical analysis of religious practice with the latest findings in medicine and the social sciences. Readers at all levels should enjoy this engaging but sophisticated book."—Choice

"Engaging, compassionate book."—National Catholic Reporter

Science (AAAS)

“Refreshing . . . objective and scholarly. . . . Fascinating it its depth, thoroughness, and detailed accounts of medieval life, the book is a good read.”
Pa) Times News (Lehighton

“Erudite and engaging.”
Choice

“The author carefully weaves detailed textual and historiographic work with the latest social scientific findings. . . . extremely valuable. . . . It represents a sophisticated integration of historical analysis of religious practice with the latest findings in medicine and the social sciences. Readers at all levels should enjoy this engaging but sophisticated book.”
National Catholic Reporter - Teresa Malcom

“Engaging, compassionate book.”
Library Journal
Scott (former deputy director, Ctr. for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; Gothic Enterprise: A Guide to Understanding the Medieval Cathedral) has written a very fine book on the phenomenon of miraculous healing, dating back to the Middle Ages, with pilgrimages still a phenomenon today. He deals first with the situations and persons among whom cures were likely to occur (apparitions, pilgrimages, shrines) and then with the conditions addressed and some possible etiologies of apparent cures. Scott's book dwells very heavily on medieval experience—when he moves toward the modern era, it's because he's established his reasoning in medieval phenomena. The emphasis here is on the medieval experience. His approach, while informed and respectful, is that of the sociologist rather than the theologian, believer, or historian, and his findings are both illuminating and, ultimately, rational. VERDICT An intellectually fascinating book, Scott's treatment will be eye-opening for students of history, theology, and human nature.—Graham Christian, Pelham, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520262751
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/7/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert A. Scott, a sociologist, was for 18 years the deputy director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Among other books, he is the author of The Gothic Enterprise: A Guide to Understanding the Medieval Cathedral (UC Press).
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Prologue

Part One / Appealing to Saints for Miracles
1. Life in the Middle Ages
2. Saints
3. Apparitions
4. Pilgrimage and Shrines

Part Two / Saints and Healing
5. Disease
6. The Role of Stress in Illness
7. Belief, Hope, and Healing
8. Framing, Confessing, Self-Efficacy, and Healing

Coda
Appendix: Accounts of Miracles at Medieval Shrines
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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