Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Leonarde's Ghost: Popular Piety and "The Appearance of a Spirit" in 1628

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Leonarde's Ghost: Popular Piety and "The Appearance of a Spirit" in 1628

Article excerpt

Leonarde's Ghost: Popular Piety and "The Appearance of a Spirit" in 1628. Translated with introduction and annotations by Kathryn A. Edwards and Susie Speakman Sutch. [Sixteenth Century Essays & Studies, 82.] (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press. 2008. Pp. xiii, 127. $1995 paperback. ISBN 978-1-931-11279-6.)

In 1628 a feverish and bedridden woman who had recently given birth claimed to receive numerous visitations from a spirit. At first, the ill woman (Huguette Roy, the wife of a guard in the local militia who was most likely a tradesman) could not identify the ghost, and the ghost was stubbornly unforthcoming about her identity. Eventually, however, it was revealed that it was the spirit of Roy's deceased aunt, Leonarde Colin. Colin, so Roy reported to the clergymen who were notified of the visits, had been sent by God to assist Roy in her daily housekeeping duties that she could not perform herself. Eventually Colin revealed that this was penance for her earthly sins and had to be performed to release her from purgatory. Roy was the only earthly creature who ever heard or saw Colin, but the local clerical authorities, and Christophe Mercier in particular, were convinced of the reality of the ghost. Indeed, Mercier wrote "The History of the Appearance of a Spirit which Happened in the City of Dole" (1628), the text that the editors translated for this volume.

The editors/translators try to preserve "the roughness, vitality, rhythms, and ambiguities of the original manuscript" (p. xiii), but they are cautious to avoid didactically telling readers how to interpret the text.They do, however, offer an extended introduction (forty-one pages) that provides a useful setting for Mercier's account. …

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