Guest Columns

April 2024

The Mysteries Embedded in a Manuscript Miracle Collection

Laura Ackerman Smoller, University of Rochester, N.Y.

As students of hagiography, we know that our sources can illuminate a wide range of topics. That simple point was brought home to me when I spent time with a manuscript recently acquired by the institution where I teach (uncatalogued manuscript, Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, University of Rochester).


December 2023

Of Saints and Shadows

Samantha K. Herrick, Syracuse University, N.Y.

After several years of pursuing Saint Fronto of Périgueux, I started seeing him everywhere. Or, at least, I began finding references to him in unexpected places, such as texts and artworks honoring other saints. He turned up, for instance, in the vita of Martha of Bethany, whom he purportedly accompanied from Judea to Gaul (along with her supposed sister, Mary Magdalen, and about a dozen other saints).

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August 2023

Saintly Reparations

Barbara Newman, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

What penance, what payment, could possibly compensate for the horrors of slavery—or of
colonialism, or the Holocaust? Clearly none. Yet few public issues of our time arouse more controversy than this matter of reparations. The recent firestorm over the fall of affirmative action is a case in point. Even when the original wrong seems beyond repair, we feel a profound moral need to do something, to perform some kind of public penance.

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December 2022

Manuscript and Material Evidence for the Sources and Reception of Angela of Foligno: an Umbrian Adventure

Michael Hahn, Sarum College, Salisbury

In collaboration with Franciscan friars, the little-known Angela of Foligno – an Umbrian laywoman who died in 1309 but was only canonized very recently in 2013 – produced 37 mystical-theological texts. The originals, however, are not known to us.

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August 2022

The Power of the Locale and the Revisitation of Late Medieval Sainthood

Carmen Florea, Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania

A paradoxical image emerges from a comparison of parochial patron saints with mendicant saints in late medieval Transylvania. Neither the Dominicans nor Franciscans—the great modernizers of sanctity—chose to promote saints of their own orders by making them the patrons of local churches.

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April 2022

Imagining “Childhood” in Cistercian Hagiography

Jacob W. Doss, University of Texas at Austin

In my research on twelfth-century Cistercian understandings of masculinity, Cistercian notions of childhood and youth constantly appeared alongside both articulations of femininity and masculinity. Authors like Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153), Aelred of Rievaulx (d. 1167), and the eventual Cistercian, William of Saint-Thierry (d. 1148), to name just a few, consistently imagined childhood…..

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December 2021

Translating to Resist Betrayals

Amy Ogden, Department of French, University of Virginia

How would modern ideas of the Middle Ages shift if every member of the Hagiography Society,
alone or working in groups, published a translation of a hagiographic text? . . .

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December 2020

  • Diocletian the Egyptian?

    ASSISTANT PROF. FELEGE-SELAM YIRGA, FYIRGA@UTK.EDU The University of Tennessee, Knoxville And when Diocletian the Egyptian became emperor, the army turned to give its help to this impious man and persecutor of the faithful and the most wicked of all men……Read more ›

    August 2021

  • Outlier Saints: The Case of Zita of Lucca

    Outlier Saints: The Case of Zita of Lucca by Mary Harvey Doyno (Humanities & Religious Studies, California State University, Sacramento) In my book The Lay Saint: Charity and Charismatic Authority in Medieval Italy, 1150-1350 (Cornell Univ. Press, 2019) I dedicate…Read more ›

    August 2021

  • Embedded Hagiography: Teaching the vita of Guibert de Nogent’s Mother

    PROF. KAREN WINSTEADWINSTEAD.2@OSU.EDU, THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY One of the many fascinating features of Guibert de Nogent’s Monodies is the remarkably detailed portrait Guibert paints of his mother, whom he represents in distinctly hagiographical terms. I have twice now incorporated…Read more ›

    August 2021

Remembering our Members

Tom Head: Head obituary by Steve Kruger

Jacques LeGoff: Le Goff obituary by Gabor Klaniczay

Maureen A. Tilley: Tilley obituary by J. Patrick Hornbeck II

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