The Miracles of St. John Capistran

By Stanko Andrić | Go to book overview
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Some historical aspects of the miracles
post mortem

The separation of morphological and historical analyses is always to some extent artificial. Yet, while the preceding chapter sought to describe the ideas and the forms of behavior documented in the sources with especial attention to broader aspects and universal ingredients among these motifs, another reading of the same documentation will be applied here: one that concentrates on specificities of its content as a whole, its global inner dynamic, and the ties by which it is embedded into its local historical context.

Miracles between diversity and uniformity

In all epochs the supernatural power of saints expressed itself most frequently in healings. This has been shown by the statistical analysis of hagiographic sources from Carolingian times,1 eleventh- and twelfth-century France,2 twelfth- through fifteenth-century Scandinavia,3 as well as of selected latemedieval canonization records,4 or of the miracle collections of individual saints such as Michelina of Pesaro (†l356)5 or Bernardine of Siena6—to mention only some of the available studies. Healings clearly predominate, but their exact proportion varies considerably. This variation is determined primarily by the particular nature of these sources. Elaborate texts such as vitae or collections of exempla describe a more diverse set of cases than canonization acts, that is, the “raw” accumulations of miracles designed to inventory the complete miracle-work of a saint. The relatively low proportion of healings in the material analysed by Sigal (about 57%) is partly due to the inclusion of libri exemplorum, in which visions and apparitions outnumber


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