The Miracles of St. John Capistran

By Stanko Andrić | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
A morphology of Capistranean
posthumous miracles

As we have seen, the miracles worked by the living saint include both incidental or spontaneous miracles, which occupy a place of greater emphasis in the vitae, and systemic or routine miracles (primarily healings). In the posthumous miracle collections not only do almost all the recorded miracle stories describe healings, but all, regardless of their contents, follow a wellestablished sequence of events.1 Thus it is easy to extract a pattern from the totality of the posthumous miracle stories. This pattern, however, appears in a number of versions.

But before we proceed to uncover this underlying common structure of the posthumous miracles, it will be useful to note the ambiguity in the notion of “miracle account.” Externally, a miracle account can be defined as any amount of text in the miracle collections which is visually delimited, usually numbered, and which normally corresponds to the description of a single miraculous event. Its length can vary considerably, from two to three lines to one or two pages. As for the inner structure, it has already been noted (chapters 4 and 5) that most of the original, first-hand accounts begin by presenting the scene of the authentication of miracle, i.e. with reversing the chronology of the actual course of events. In other words, the account of the authentication precedes the story of how a miracle happened. A miracle reporter, introduced in the first sentence, narrates his story, and the story finishes with the reporter narrating it. The public authentication in the shrine is at the same time the completion of the miracle story and its verbalization, its fixation as a text. The contents of a miracle account can be viewed both as belonging to a unique line of development and as divided into two sections or two parallel times: the time of action and the time of narration.

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