St George’s Day: A Cultural History

St. George slaying the Dragon

The modern celebration of St. George’s Day, frequently associated with intense English nationalism, grew out of a religious feast that commemorated a Middle-Eastern individual who died protesting an intolerant empire.

St. Brendan and his miraculous food: heavenly meals for a legendary voyage


Therefore, the so called Navigatio Sancti brendani abbatis features real persons in an imaginary world, where credible details and legendary traits mingle with each other

Following in the footsteps of Christ: text and context in the Vita Mildrethae

St Mildred - photo by John Salmon

Goscelin was the most celebrated hagiographer of his generation, whose prolificacy in writing the ‘lives of countless saints’.

Under the aegis of the saints. Hagiography and power in early Carolingian northern Italy

Carolingian Renaissance

This article gives an overview of the features, choices, tastes and models of sanctity characteristic of Italian hagiography, against the background of local contexts and political competition.

Looking in the Past for a Discourse of Motherhood: Birgitta of Sweden and Julia Kristeva

St. Birgitta of Sweden

This essay explores two parallel trajectories of mythic retrospection: medieval “myths” of the Biblical past (like Birgitta’s prophetic visions), and modern “myths” of the medieval past (like Kristeva’s survey).

“I, too, am a Christian”: early martyrs and their lives in the late medieval and early modern Irish manuscript tradition

Irish Saints

This paper examines part of that future: late medieval and early modern Gaelic Irish devotion to the early Christian martyrs as evidenced in the vernacular manuscript tradition.

Dead virgins: feminine sanctity in medieval Wales

Saint Non's Chapel-Fenster - St.Winifred

Examines literature on the medieval traditions associated with Welsh holy women. Prerequisites for feminine sanctity; Biographical pattern of the female saints; Implications of the popularity of the Welsh women saints.

Maria Mediatrix: Mediating the Divine in the Devotional Literature of Late Medieval and Early Modern England

Our_Mother_of_Perpetual_Help - Virgin Mary

In medieval theology, Mary‘s body, as the physical site of the Incarnation, provided an opportunity for speculation about the relationship between divinity and humanity…An examination of how Marian imagery is used as a rhetorical and meditative device in devotional texts will shed light on the way the relationship between human body and divine spirit was experienced.

Towards A Poetics of Marvellous Spaces in Old and Middle English Narrative

Middle English

I argue that the heart of this poetics of marvellous spaces is displacement. Their wonder and dread comes from boundaries that these places blur and cross, from the resistance of these places to being known or mapped, and from the deliberate distancing between these places and the home of their texts.

The Voices of the Saints: Speaking Reliquaries

Arm Reliquary

Although they have often been considered as mere representational labels identifying the relic contained, body-part reliquaries, or what I would prefer to call shaped reliquaries, participate in a fluid exchange of signs

The Lives of St Samson: rewriting the ambitions of an early medieval cult


In the middle of the ninth century, at the monastery of Dol in Brittany, the Life of the sixth-century saint Samson was rewritten. The rewriter evidently perceived a defi- ciency in the existing Life of St Samson, and one that many modern historians would come to share: the fact that it had very little to say about Brittany.

The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra

The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus

Around the fourth century in what is now Turkey, a boy of humble circumstance became a man revered for his many virtues.

Did St. Peter Damian Die in 1073? A New Perspective on His Final Days

Peter Damian  - photo by  Srnec at en.wikipedia

The historical narrative of Peter Damian’s final years has been shaped by the belief that he died in early 1072. His chronic ill health, scholars assume, must have gotten worse as he reached his mid sixties.

Saint Lucy’s Day: A Light in a Dark Time

medieval image of saint lucy from the walters art museum

Scandinavian and Sicilian girls eagerly await the arrival of Saint Lucy on 13 December.

St. Ninian of Whithorn

Saint Ninian

My interest here is in finding usable information regarding the centuries before Bede and in the way in which new data, especially the outstanding recent archaeological discoveries at Whithom in Wigtownshire (which is certainly the site of Candida Casal. might support and add to his picture of St. Ninian and the importance of his church at Candida Casa.

The King’s Three Images: The representation of St. Edward the Confessor in historiography, hagiography and liturgy

Edward the Confessor - Bayeux Tapestry

This study will revolve around the characterisation of Edward as constructed in the various surviving texts, and its emphasis will be twofold: my primary concern is to explore how St. Edward the Confessor’s images were constructed, i.e. how he is represented in the various texts written about him.

Saint Francis of Assisi: An Exorcist of Demons

Saint Francis drives away demons

Saint Francis was considered such a model of Christian virtue that he was able to perform miracles as an agent of Jesus. Among them, the description of demoniacs and exorcisms are particularly interesting for the history of psychiatry.

Converting Childhood: Shifting Perceptions of Childhood in Early Irish Ecclesiastical and Secular Law

Medieval children 2

In early medieval Ireland, children could be reared in foster families or by the church.

Werewolves and the Dog-headed Saint in the Middle Ages

Traditional eastern depiction of a dog-headed Saint Christopher: an icon from the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens.

Stories of werewolves and their canine kin have been around for centuries, and some of them may be a bit surprising.

Charisma and Routine: Shaping the Memory of Brother Richard and Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc in battle

Charisma and Routine: Shaping the Memory of Brother Richard and Joan of Arc Andrew Brown (School of Humanities, Massey University, New Zealand) Religions, 2012, 3(4), 1162-1179 Abstract The extraordinary life and fate of Joan of Arc are well known; so is her association with the prophetic preacher, Brother Richard, who predicted the Apocalypse. Less well explained is why […]

Bede on the Life of St. Felix

Life of St. Felix

If the eighth-century Anglo-Saxon writer Bede had the chance to rework a Saint’s life, what changes would he make and how would he make it more relevant for his audience?

Medieval mystic Angela da Foligno is named a Saint

Angela da Foligno

Pope Francis made the surprising announcement last week that Angela da Foligno, an Italian Franciscan and mystic, has been named a saint.

Wolves in Lamb’s Clothing: Redeeming the Images of Catherine of Siena and Angela of Foligno

Catherine of Siena

Medieval holy women were revered for their power and efforts, by both their communities and the Church. However, what are contemporary women to make of these female saints?

The uses of secular rulers and characters in the Welsh Saint’s lives in the Vespasian Legendary

St Teilo in Holy Trinity Church, Abergavenny - photo by Gwenddwr

This study focuses on the functional use of famous characters from the Welsh literary and historical contexts, like King Arthur and King Maelgwn of Gwynedd, in the Welsh Saints’ Lives found in the Vespasian Legendary, the most significant Welsh legendary extant, dated to ca. 1200.

The Transformative Nature of Gender: The Coding of St. Brigit of Kildare through Hagiography

Brigit of Kildare

The Transformative Nature of Gender: The Coding of St. Brigit of Kildare through Hagiography Liliane Catherine Marcil-Johnston Master of Arts, The Department of Theology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada December (2012) Abstract This study examines how gender is portrayed in the hagiographic tradition surrounding St. Brigit of Kildare. In particular, it provides an in-depth look […]

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