Contested Canonizations

Contested Canonizations: The Last Medieval Saints, 1482-1523

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    Contested Canonizations
    Book Description:

    This work, which forms an important bridge between medieval and Counter-Reformation sanctity and canonization, provides a richly contextualized analysis of the ways in which the last five candidates for sainthood before the Reformation came to be canonized.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1935-6
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Simon Ditchfield
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Popes canonized only five saints between 1482 and 1523, following well established medieval procedures; there were no more official canonizations until 1588, long after the Protestant and Catholic reformations began and more than twenty years after the final meeting of the Council of Trent. When saint making resumed, the atmosphere was very different, even if, to begin with, the rules and procedures for making saints remained the same.¹ Though other medieval figures were canonized centuries later—one thinks of Joan of Arc—these elevations occurred in totally different contexts. Secondly, not one of the five saints considered in this book...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Saint-Making at the End of the Middle Ages
    (pp. 13-32)

    For most of the medieval period, particular individuals were honorably buried by local authority—abbot, bishop, lord, or commune for instance—because of their nobility, charity, exemplary piety, or healing powers. They might subsequently become the center of a local cult. Eventually they might be reinterred in a more honorable location (the process known as “translation”). Their devotees communicated with them through prayers that could result in miracles performed by God through their intercession. By the end of the twelfth century, however, the papacy began to take control of this process, removing recognition of individuals as saints from the periphery...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The Embattled Friar: Bonaventure (c. 1220–74, cd. 1482)
    (pp. 33-70)

    Saints usually don’t behave as “normal” people do. Take Bonaventure our first example. Sporting razor-sharp iron fingernails, he “impetuously leaped down” from his perch at the top of a tree to attack an enemy, but Christ “sent Francis with a stone to grind down Bonaventure’s nails.”¹ Hardly pious behavior; yet that’s how an enraptured Franciscan envisioned the man who was canonized about two centuries later. This bizarre image of an iron-taloned, tree-climbing Bonaventure sums up the anxieties felt throughout the entire Franciscan order that found expression in the troubled mind of one of its members. Problems within the order will...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Good Duke: Leopold of Austria (c. 1073–1136, cd. 1485)
    (pp. 71-116)

    “You know,” the pope grumbled, “that in canonizing saints, requests should be made frequently; [but] since the emperor disdains writing to us, we scorn to please him.” Leopold’s canonization commissioners continued to plead. Sixtus IV replied that unless Friedrich III responded to him, “neither in this nor in any other cause do we wish to satisfy him.”¹ Canonizations—as well as “other causes”—could hinge on such stubbornness at the top of the hierarchy, in this case because of a political-ecclesiastical fight over an anti-papal refugee living in an imperial city. The intertwined links of sainthood and dynastic politics grew...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Hermit-Ambassador: Francis of Paola (c. 1416–1507, cd. 1519)
    (pp. 117-166)

    After the Minims’ Calabrian hermit-founder died in France on April 2, 1507, many came to visit his corpse in a wooden coffin; for three days they paid their respects, and some even experienced miraculous cures. Meanwhile the court painter Jean Bourdichon, who had known Francis well—his workshop was a few minutes’ walk from his hermitage—made a death mask” so that he could paint the true form of Francis’s face.”¹ The day after Easter (April 5) the body was buried in a chapel at Montils (Tours). A duchess, having learned that the chapel was periodically inundated by the river...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The Reforming Friar-Archbishop: Antoninus of Florence (1389–1459, cd. 1523)
    (pp. 167-206)

    In leaving Francis’s austere cell for the noisy activity of Florence, we move from an uneducated charismatic to a self-assured archbishop. Antoninus; from rustic hero turned royal adviser to ecclesiastical boss at the heart of the premier Renaissance city. In Antoninus’s Florence the cathedral with Brunelleschi’s fantastic dome was consecrated by Eugenius IV, Michelozzo began the Palazzo Medici, Donatello returned from Padua to continue his sculpting, and Ghiberti’s heavenly gates were finally revealed. Much of the artistic and humanistic ornament of the city—one thinks of Marsilio Ficino among many others—was due to Cosimo de’Medici, who knew Antoninus well...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Luther’s Devil-God: Benno of Meissen (c. 1040–1106; cd. 1523)
    (pp. 207-240)

    In the summer of 1524 there was a curious procession at Buchholz in electoral Saxony, led by the young men and miners of the village.¹ The revelers wore bathing caps or sieves on their heads (mocking the ecclesiastical beret) and carried gaming boards as songbooks, while an officiating “bishop” bedecked with straw sported a basket as a miter as he processed beneath a filthy canopy. Dung forks replaced candles. At an abandoned mine the revelers unearthed some “relics”: a horse’s head and leg bones as well as a cow’s jawbone, all of which were tossed onto a dung cart and...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 241-256)

    Saints were made in several interacting contexts in addition to the political in the broadest sense: the faithful had an interest in seeing the object of their devotion raised to the highest celestial level, for pious and personal reasons (as sources of thaumaturgic power, protection, and well-being as spiritual patrons, and as a guides to the next life); rival cities and towns, and the nobility mundane and ecclesiastical, benefited from the added prestige, dynastic publicity, spiritual patronage, and probably increased income that came with “possessing” a saint in their midst; The Church expressed its regulatory authority through the various canonization...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-272)
  14. Index
    (pp. 273-276)