Miracles at the Jesus Oak

Miracles at the Jesus Oak: Histories of the Supernatural in Reformation Europe

CRAIG HARLINE
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vm7f0
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  • Book Info
    Miracles at the Jesus Oak
    Book Description:

    In the tradition ofThe Return of Martin GuerreandThe Great Cat Massacre,Miracles at the Jesus Oakis a rich, evocative journey into the past and the extraordinary events that transformed the lives of ordinary people.

    In the musty archive of a Belgian abbey, historian Craig Harline happened upon a vast collection of documents written in the seventeenth century by people who claimed to have experienced miracles and wonders. In Miracles at the Jesus Oak, Harline recasts these testimonies into engaging vignettes that open a window onto the believers, unbelievers, and religious movements of Catholic Europe in the Age of Reformation.

    Written with grace and charm,Miracles at the Jesus Oakis popular history at its most informative and enlightening.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16743-6
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-II)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. III-IV)
  3. PREFACE TO THE PAPERBACK EDITION
    (pp. V-IX)
  4. PROLOGUE
    (pp. 1-9)

    An Abbey in Belgium, in Summer. The tall, kindly prior greets me in the parlor, where I have been instructed to wait, and where the walls are in eighteenth-century green. Because the prior is also the archivist, it is he who leads me through immense doors into the private domain of the monks, and toward the precious documents of his dying abbey.

    Down the cloistered hallway, past the barren garden, past endless portraits of the abbey’s distinguished superiors (over eight hundred years’ worth in all), we at last reach the heavy double doors of the archive. The prior turns the...

  5. ONE MIRACLES AT THE JESUS OAK
    (pp. 11-51)

    In the Soniën Woods, near Brussels, around 1630. The grocer Peter van Kerckhoven traveled often on the rutted dirt highway that ran southeast from his home in Brussels. Most of the time his destination was the middling village of Overijse, some eight miles away, where he was born more than fifty years before and where in his spare time he oversaw the family properties. Though the journey was by now long familiar, it was also unfailingly stressful, for it required him to pass through the Soniën Woods, deep and dark.

    Despite their lofty overlord, the king of Spain himself, these...

  6. TWO MARIA ABUNDANT
    (pp. 53-91)

    October 31, 1657, All Saints Eve, a Poor Neighborhood in Gent. Maria Caroens, mother of fourteen, was now desperate. For her newest infant child she had produced not a single drop of milk, and so the child cried every night, all night, and was slowly starving to death. At last Maria could bear no more.

    This was saying much, for suffering was an old acquaintance of Maria, ever since her girlhood in the seaside town of Nieuwpoort, where she was born forty-two years before. Maria’s first husband, a fishnet maker named Jan, died during their eighth year of marriage, while...

  7. THREE THE CHAPEL OF POOR TAILORS
    (pp. 93-125)

    March 5, 1660, a Friday, on the Streets of Gent. Two years after the healing of Maria Caroens, and some ten blocks north, another anxious mother carrying another sick child walked hopefully toward yet another shrine.

    Her destination was the church of the convent called Groenebriel, near the city’s northern walls, where she had heard were preserved a few small relics of Saint Fiacre, a holy hermit who had died a thousand years before in France but who at the moment was suddenly enjoying newfound fame as a healer. Most of Fiacre’s precious remains still lay in France, around Meaux,...

  8. FOUR ALDEGONDE IN THE UNDERWORLD
    (pp. 127-177)

    Brussels, Holy Sacrament Day, May 31, 1652. In the chapel of the House for Penitent Daughters, the line for communion moved slowly forward. Near the end of that line, twenty-two-year-old Aldegonde Walre moved more reluctantly than the others, but their momentum pulled her steadily along.

    Confession the day before had been torturous enough. Aldegonde had tried to delay it by requesting a special confessor instead of the regular man attached to the house, saying she wanted someone besides a Dominican, but that was just a ruse, for, though Catholic from birth, she hardly knew the difference. The real cause was...

  9. FIVE THE PERFECTLY NATURAL CURE OF WOUNDS
    (pp. 179-239)

    March 4, 1634, a Street in Brussels. Warrant in hand, entourage securely about him, the judge of the ecclesiastical court walked purposefully toward an address in the Leuven street. His very presence in this small procession signified that this was no ordinary business, which would have been left to mere prosecutors and bailiffs alone.

    Suddenly, still short of their destination, the judge and his men bumped into the very man they had come to arrest: the medical doctor Jan Baptista van Helmont. Thinking quickly, the judge’s chief prosecutor and a couple of sturdy bailiffs stepped forward and “exhorted” the doctor...

  10. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 241-250)

    Leuven, Belgium, Another Summer. After spending so much time in the archives and merely imagining places and characters, I want to see what is left of them. I start, like millions before me, with the most famous choice, the Sharp Hill, still thriving today.

    Though I’ve visited the shrine before, my Belgian friend Jan, a fellow historian, has insisted I go there on foot, “the way pilgrims experienced it.” Hence on a lovely Sunday morning made for pilgrims, five of us set out on the seventeen-mile walk from Leuven. Jan wears his usual suit and dress shoes, though he has...

  11. SOURCES
    (pp. 251-306)
  12. ILLUSTRATIONS AND CREDITS
    (pp. 307-308)
  13. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 309-312)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 313-324)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 325-326)