Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom, 1000-1700 (Google eBook)

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University of Chicago Press, Jan 15, 2010 - Religion - 321 pages
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In Saints and Society, Donald Weinstein and Rudolph M. Bell examine the lives of 864 saints who lived between 1000 and 1700 and the perceptions of sanctity prevalent in late medieval and early modern Europe. They also provide a substantial body of information on the people among whom the saints lived and by whom they came to be venerated. In the first part, the authors give close consideration to what the saints' lives reveal about childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; the impact of religious inspiration upon family bonds; and family influences upon religious behavior. The second part provides a composite picture of piety and its changing configuration in Latin Christendom. With the assistance of statistical analysis, the authors answer questions involving the popular perception of holiness, social class, and gender.
  

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Contents

The Historian and the Hagiographer
3
The Call to Holiness
19
1 Children
21
2 Adolescents
50
3 Chastity
75
4 Adults
102
Statistical Profiles of Saints
123
Perceptions of Sanctity
141
6 Place
168
7 Class
196
8 Men and Women
222
New Directions
241
Appendix on Sources
253
Appendix on Method
279
Notes
293
Index
311

5 Who Was a Saint?
143

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Page 8 - We study saints in order to understand piety; we study piety in order to understand society, for it is one of our basic premises that the pursuit as well as the perception of holiness mirrored social values and concerns.
Page 8 - The saintly character is the character for which spiritual emotions are the habitual centre of the personal energy; and there is a certain composite photograph of universal saintliness, the same in all religions, of which the features can easily be traced.
Page 10 - Facts are relatively few and tend to be subordinated to myth; therefore, they have to be treated with skepticism" (p. 8). Moreover, "it is necessary to discriminate between different sorts of purported facts-to decide which ones are likely to have been embroidered, invented, or borrowed from stories of other saints-and this requires that we keep in mind the hagiographer's purposes...
Page 14 - Reformation gathered force. The militant clergy of both faiths sought to impose on the masses what was essentially an elite pattern of religion, inaugurating an era oí one-way religious pressure from the top down — and equally an era of increasing resistance and partial conformity from below.
Page 10 - Hagiographers wrote to inspire their readers, to honor their saint, and to make a case for canonization by demonstrating that the venerable person was a member of the supernatural community of saints.
Page 6 - ... revolve around two impulses. The first of these is the need for purity, for a feeling of spiritual perfection, which comes from separating oneself from material and carnal thoughts and acts — what William James described as "the cleansing of existence from brutal and sensual elements.
Page 10 - Our premise here is that a society's heroes reflect, through antithesis and projection, its real condition and its...
Page 8 - Consequently, we study sainthood not only for what it reveals about religious feelings and ideas but also for what it can tell us about European society from the High Middle Ages to the early modern period.
Page 14 - ... in a single direction — from the top down. On the contrary, the flow was multidirectional, and often the lines are so intertwined as to suggest that the structure of religiousness was not purely hierarchical. Bakhtin's brilliant study of Rabelais's masterpiece showed how it vibrated with popular motifs and perceptions.1...
Page 12 - By clarifying this distinction between the saint as historical person and as construct, the creation of other people's perceptions and expectations, Delooz launched the critical study of the sociology of canonization.

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About the author (2010)

Donald Weinstein, professor emeritus of history at the University of Arizona, is the author of Ambassador from Venice: Pietro Pasqualigo in Libson and Savonarola and Florence. Rudolph M. Bell, professor of history at Rutgers University, is the author of Fate and Honor, Family and Village and Holy Anorexia, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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