Miracles and Pilgrims
The records of 'miracles' in the Middle Ages are among the most valuable and unexploited documents of medieval popular Christianity. Now available for the first time in paperback, Ronald Finucane's highly praised historical detective-work, based on over 3000 posthumous miracles (the wonders attributed to saints after their deaths), pieces together a fascinating account of the extent to which the world of pilgrims, miracles and faith-healing exerted its hold over the medieval imagination. Miracle-working at saints' shrines usually concerned curative healing. The book is rich in stories of crippled limbs crackling as they straightened during a miracle, 'possessed' people on the rampage, the screams and groans preceding the moment when blind people could see again. Above all, Ronald Finucane makes important new connections between the medical knowledge of the Middle Ages and the incidence of miracles; for the conditions of medieval life unquestionably reinforced the popular beliefs in wonder-working saints. The events at the curative shrines provide a rare glimpse of the behavior of medieval people at centres of popular religion and an indication of what sorts of people were involved, and why and how they made their journeys.