Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things?: Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation [NOOK Book]

Overview

From its earliest centuries, one of the most notable features of Christianity has been the veneration of the saints--the holy dead. This sweepingly ambitious history from one of the world's leading medieval historians tells the fascinating story of the cult of the saints from its origins in the second-century days of the Christian martyrs to the Protestant Reformation. Drawing on sources from around the Christian world, Robert Bartlett examines all of the most important aspects of the saints--including miracles, ...

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Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things?: Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation

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Overview

From its earliest centuries, one of the most notable features of Christianity has been the veneration of the saints--the holy dead. This sweepingly ambitious history from one of the world's leading medieval historians tells the fascinating story of the cult of the saints from its origins in the second-century days of the Christian martyrs to the Protestant Reformation. Drawing on sources from around the Christian world, Robert Bartlett examines all of the most important aspects of the saints--including miracles, relics, pilgrimages, shrines, and the saints' role in the calendar, literature, and art.

As this engaging narrative shows, a wide variety of figures have been venerated as saints: men and women, kings and servant girls, legendary virgins and highly political bishops--and one dog. The book explores the central role played by the bodies and body parts of saints, and the special treatment these relics received: how they were treasured and enshrined, used in war and peace, and faked and traded. The shrines of the saints drew pilgrims, sometimes from hundreds of miles, and the book describes the routes, dangers, and rewards of pilgrimage, including the thousands of reported miracles. The book surveys the rich literature and images that proliferated around the saints, as well as the saints' impact on everyday life--from the naming of people and places to the shaping of the calendar. Finally, the book considers how the Christian cult of saints compares with apparently similar aspects of other religions.

At once deeply informative and entertaining, this is an unmatched account of an immensely important and intriguing part of the religious life of the past--as well as the present.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[M]agisterial. . . . [A] fascinating and illuminating read. . . . Bartlett's book will also be welcome to those who have experienced something of the power of the cult of the saints in their own time and place. . . . [H]is style balances rigor and a near-encyclopedic breadth with accessibility and humor. . . . Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? will remain a classic study of the saints, their cults and their faithful for a long time. . . . Robert Bartlett's masterpiece."--Holly J. Grieco, America
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400848782
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/10/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 808
  • Sales rank: 198,814
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Robert Bartlett is the Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a fellow of the British Academy. His books include "The Making of Europe", joint winner of the Wolfson History Prize, and "The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory, and Colonialism in the Middle Ages" (Princeton). He has also written and presented documentaries on the Middle Ages for BBC television.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xv
Preface xvii
Part I Developments 1
Chapter 1 Origins (100-500) 3
The Martyrs 3
The Religious Revolution of the Fourth Century 7
Translations 10
Rituals of Commemoration and Invocation 13
Confessor Saints 16
The Birth of Hagiography 19
The First Miracle Books 22
Chapter 2 The Early Middle Ages (500-1000) 27
The View from the 590s 29
Gregory the Great 43
The Benedictine Centuries 47
New Christendoms: Eastern and Northern Europe 52
Chapter 3 The High and Later Middle Ages (1000-1500) 57
Papal Canonization 57
Mendicant Saints 65
Lay Female Saints 71
New Devotions 77
Chapter 4 The Protestant Reformation 85
Part II Dynamics 93
Chapter 5 The Nature of Cult 95
Name, Body, Text 95
Patronage and Invocation: The Mutual Relationship 103
Chapter 6 Saints' Days 113
Liturgy 113
The Hierarchy of Feast-days 120
Saints' Days and Local Identity 129
Holy Days and Holidays 133
Chapter 7 Types of Saint 137
Counting Saints 137
Categorizing Saints 150
Saints as Patrons 221
Chapter 8 Relics and Shrines 239
Body Parts 239
Contact Relics 244
The Shrine in the Church 250
Running a Shrine 259
Reliquaries 263
Relic Collections 276
Relics in Movement 282
Relics in Law and War 311
Relics in Dispute 324
Chapter 9 Miracles 333
The Meaning of Miracle 333
Patterns of Miracles 342
Healing Miracles 349
Miracles of Provision 365
Visions, Prophecy, and Rapture 368
Saints in War 378
Saints and Demons 383
Saints and Animals 390
Liberation 398
Punitive Miracles 401
Chapter 10 Pilgrimage 410
Origins and Definitions 410
Pilgrim Garb and Status 417
Motives 421
The Shrines of Medieval Christendom 425
Logistics 433
Pilgrim Guides and Pilgrim Badges 439
Chapter 11 Dedications and Naming 444
Dedication of Churches and Altars 444
Place Names 454
Personal Names 459
Chapter 12 Images of the Saints 471
The Image in Early Christianity 471
Byzantine Iconoclasm 475
Images in the Medieval West 480
Chapter 13 The Literature of Sanctity 504
Types of Hagiography 504
Reasons for Writing 510
The Hagiographers 513
The Life 518
Legendaries 546
Miracle Books 558
Sermons 570
The Literature of Canonization Proceedings 576
Vernacular Hagiography 578
Chapter 14 Doubt and Dissent 587
Early Polemics 587
Western Heretics 591
Sceptics and Scoffers 596
Policing the Saints 602
Chapter 15 Reflections 609
Saints and Gods 609
Saints and Nature 618
Saints and the Dead 621
Tomb-shrines in Judaism and Islam 626
Saints and Ancestors 630
Comparisons and Conclusions 633
Glossary 639
Bibliography of Works Cited 641
Index 735
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 14, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Robert Bartlett Explores the Power of the Saints The emphasis o

    Robert Bartlett Explores the Power of the Saints

    The emphasis of death and the afterlife in Christianity is a major component of the religion's history. Robert Bartlett explores the Christian saints, known as the holy dead in this great book. He discusses a variety of saints and their alleged miracles, pilgrimages, and works.




    One of the strongest points of this book is that it covers a large group of saints - even a dog! It encompasses a group of women, political bishops, and the trade of relics. Bartlett's strength as an author comes from his experiences as a professor of medieval history in Scotland. His previous books include Trial by Fire and Water: The Medieval Judicial Ordeal and The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change, 950-1350, both of which cover different subsets of the middle ages.




    Another of Bartlett's strong points is that it explores a human aspect of the saints. His best point is that "the cult of the saints met need" and provided a positive outlook for the "sick and suffering world." Adding personality to the tet makes it an engaging and thought-provoking read.




    The main criticism readers might have of this book is that it does not necessarily set out to answer the question it poses in the title. Still, readers will appreciate this book as a demonstration of the prominence of religion in Christian Europe. Bartlett's story is one of passion and a search for happiness.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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