Janine Larmon Peterson

title.none: Klaniczay, ed., Medieval Canonization Processes (Janine Larmon Peterson)

identifier.other: baj9928.0703.012 07.03.12

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Janine Larmon Peterson, Sarah Lawrence College,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2007

identifier.citation: Klaniczay, Gábor, ed. Medieval Canonization Processes: Legal and Religious Aspects. Series: Collection de l'Ecole Francaise de Rome, vol. 340. Rome: Ecole Francaise de Rome, 2004. Pp. 392. ISBN: $55.00 2-7283-0723-7.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 07.03.12

Klaniczay, Gábor, ed. Medieval Canonization Processes: Legal and Religious Aspects. Series: Collection de l'Ecole Francaise de Rome, vol. 340. Rome: Ecole Francaise de Rome, 2004. Pp. 392. ISBN: $55.00 2-7283-0723-7.

Reviewed by:

Janine Larmon Peterson
Sarah Lawrence College

It is not surprising that the spectre of André Vauchez's seminal work, La sainteté en Occident aux derniers siècles du Moyen Age d'aprés les procès de canonisation et les documents hagiographiques (English edition entitled Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages), lurks amongst this collection of eighteen essays on the juridical aspects of the process of canonization, edited by Gábor Klaniczay. All but two contributors (Alexandra Witkowska and Bernhard Schimmelpfennig) acknowledge Vauchez's study in their footnotes. In his introduction Klaniczay notes that these essays, the end product of the Wallenberg Seminar at the Collegium Budapest in 2001, "ont choisi d'explorer ce thème en récoltant les fruits de la recherche historique qui s'intensifiait dans ce domaine depuis la synthèse pionnière et magistrale d'André Vauchez" (1). It is fitting, therefore, that Vauchez himself contributed a short concluding essay to this volume.

Since Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages is explicitly cited as the foundation for these collected studies, it may be disappointing to some readers that many of the contributing authors do not substantively address specific conclusions in Vauchez's opus. Laura Ackermann Smoller is the exception: her essay challenges the proposed dichotomy between Mediterranean and non-Mediterranean sainthood, a typology that Vauchez presented. The intended purpose of this collection, however, was to present research that widened the chronological boundaries of Vauchez's work (which was limited to 1198-1431) and specifically addressed the geographical margins of Europe. Thus while a number of these essays are abbreviated versions of larger published studies and may be familiar to those who specialize in medieval sanctity, the collection nonetheless does offer something for those scholars knowledgeable about the procedure in France and Italy and interested in considering the process of canonization in a comparative perspective. In addition, for the non-specialist, Medieval Canonization Processes serves as a useful introduction to some of the issues regarding the juridical process of papal canonization.

The collection begins with two essays that place the studies that follow in a wider chronological and thematic perspective. Aviad Kleinberg, in "Canonization without a canon," addresses the issue of how papal canonizations influenced the way in which medieval communities constructed sanctity (7-18). This is a topic Kleinberg has explored in earlier projects. In this essay, he argues that the real impact of papal canonizations was judicial; its legacy was the procedure of the inquisitio, meant to establish guidelines for determining "proof." In "The genesis of the ordeal of relics by fire in Ottonian Germany: an alternative form of «canonization»," Thomas Head discusses how the judicial ordeal by fire was utilized to authenticate holiness in the tenth through twelfth centuries (19-37). His essay reminds the reader that papal approval was not the only means through which individuals were elevated to sainthood in the Middle Ages and reveals one method of legitimizing local cults prior to the formal adoption of papal canonization.

The remaining essays are divided into four sections. The first deals with canonizations of northern European saints. Dick Harrison's essay examines a letter from Pope Alexander III (c. 1170s) to an unidentified Swedish king prohibiting the veneration of a purported drunkard ("Quod magno nobis fuit horrori...Horror, power and holiness within the context of canonization," 39-52). He addresses how the concepts of horror, power, and holiness as presented in the letter impacted the canonization process and were understood by the participants. Ultimately he argues that scholars must take into account not only procedural aspects but also the attitudes of both the populace and the papacy to larger theoretical issues that affected the process of individual canonization inquiries. Following essays by Michael Richter ("Procedural aspects of the canonization of Lorcán Ua Tuathail," 53-65), Tore Nyberg ("The canonization process of St. Birgitta of Sweden," 67-85), and Anders Frojmark ("The canonization process of Brynolf Algotsson," 87-100) provide case studies of canonization processes: for Lorcán Ua Tuathail, archbishop of Dublin (d.1180); Birgitta or Bridget of Sweden (d. 1373); and Brynolf Algotsson, bishop of Sweden (d. 1317), respectively. Goram Bäärnhielm and Janken Myrdal in the final study in this section, "Miracles and medieval life. Canonization proceedings as a source for medieval social history," attempt to extract information regarding marriage patterns, geographical mobility, attitudes towards children, and work-related accidents in medieval Sweden through an examination of the testimony of witnesses in miracle collections (101-116).

Essays in the second section also have a geographically unifying theme, in this case central Europe and Italy. The inclusion of Italy is somewhat surprising, considering that there is a large body of scholarship about Italian sainthood. Furthermore, since the intended purpose of this collection was to provide a comparative framework for existing knowledge about canonization processes in France and Italy, a specific focus on central European examples would perhaps have been more welcome. A full three of the five studies in this group predominantly use Italian material. These are Paolo Golinelli's examination of the selection of witnesses in Italian miracle collections ("Social aspects in some Italian canonization trials: the choice of witnesses," 165-80); the late Michael Goodich's discussion of the discrepancy between the emphasis placed on "objective" discernment of miracles versus how many saints were ultimately authenticated by a papal dream or revelation ("Reason or revelation? The criteria for the proof and credibility of miracles in canonization processes," 181-97); and Alain Boureau's investigation of how the early fourteenth century marked a turning point in papal attitudes towards necromancy, as demonstrated by miracle collections of the period ("Saints et démons dans les procès de canonisation du début du XIVe siècle," 199-221). The two essays that do address canonizations in central Europe are Gábor Klaniczay, "Proving sanctity in the canonization processes (Saint Elizabeth and Saint Margaret of Hungary)" (117-48) and Alexandra Witkowska, "The thirteenth-century miracula of St. Stanislaus, bishop of Krakow" (149-63).

The third section addresses the technical aspects of the canonization procedure. Essays in this group look at the role of reputation, or fama, and how this evidence was gathered and presented; the changes in the ceremony of canonization, as revealed in the ceremonial book of the Curia; and the importance of witnesses of miracles in the canonization procedure. They are, respectively, Christian Krötzl, "Fama sanctitatis. Die Akten der spätmittelalterlichen Kanonisationsprozesse als Quelle zu Kommunikation und Informationsvermittlung in der mittelalterlichen Gesellschaft" (223-43); Bernhard Schimmelpfennig, "Die Berücksichtigung von Kanonisationen in den kurialen Zeremonienbüchern des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderts" (245-57); and Thomas Wetzstein, "Iura novit curia. Zur Verfahrensnormierung der Kanonisationsprozesse des späten Mittelalters" (259-87).

The final section brings the issue of papal canonizations into the early modern period. Laura Ackermann Smoller, in "Northern and southern sanctity in the canonization of Vincent Ferrer: the effects of procedural differences on the image of the saint" (289-308), examines the two inquiries in partibus (in Toulouse and Naples) for Vincent Ferrer and discusses the way in which regional concerns affected the role of the saint, and as a consequence how he was portrayed in the inquiries. Letizia Pellegrini's article, "La sainteté au XVe siècle entre procès et droit canonique: avant et après Bernardin de Sienne" (309-26) suggests that the canonization of Bernardino of Siena marks a turning point in the medieval procedure and served as a model for future early modern processes. Martine Boiteux discusses visual representations of the canonization ceremony in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries in "Le ritual romain de canonisation et ses représentations à l'époque moderne" (327-55). A brief summary of the significance of the canonization procedure by André Vauchez follows. The collection concludes with a postscript by Bengt Ankarloo arguing that the study of the canonization process could shed light on witchcraft trials, since the same procedure (the inquisitio) was used for both.

As can be expected in a collection that contains eighteen essays, some contributions are more conclusive than others. Highlights include Smoller's discussion of the two inquiries for Vincent of Ferrer. Her examination of the sources successfully demonstrates how the life and behavior of a saint could be variously interpreted in order to promote local political agendas. While perhaps too much credit is given to the ruling elite who are portrayed as orchestrating the deponents, rather than other possible causes of the different emphases in the witness testimony (such as class or vocation), Smoller's essay is rich in evidence and nuanced in argument. Richter's essay is also a pleasure to read. He deeply mines the canonization inquiries of Lorcán Ua Tuathail to produce a detailed study of the early thirteenth-century process and the cooperation that occurred in this case between the saint's supporters on two continents. In contrast, Bäärnhielm and Myrdal's study of miracle collections for Swedish social history is less convincing. Since there are only ten extant Swedish collections for the entire Middle Ages, there does not appear to be a large enough sample to provide credible evidence regarding the social issues they attempt to bring to light, nor is it possible to address change over time. Perhaps this is simply a case in which the confines of an article were inadequate for presenting the depth of their research. The essay is, in fact, a synopsis of their Swedish monograph on the subject (Kvinnor, barn och fester i medeltida mirakelberättelser [Skara, 1994]).

In conclusion, anyone interested in sainthood and the development of the papal canonization procedure will undoubtedly find an article of interest within the wide-ranging essays of Medieval Canonization Processes. Although perhaps the collection seeks to accomplish somewhat more than it achieves, there are many individual studies that are well worth one's time. As a whole, it is a useful addition to the many studies of sainthood in the Middle Ages.