Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

Article of the Month

Indexers select an article or essay at the beginning of each month that is outstanding in its line of argument, wealth of significances, and writing style. We particularly look for pieces that will be useful as course readings.

February 2014

Saint Agnes heals the emperor's daughter who sleeps on her tomb
Saint Agnes heals the emperor’s daughter who sleeps on her tomb. Royal cup, France, 1370-80. London, British Museum. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Ritchey, Sara. "Affective Medicine: Later Medieval Healing Communities and the Feminization of Health Care Practices in the Thirteenth-Century Low Countries,"
Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures 40, 2 (2014): 113-143.

Abstract: This essay uses saints' lives and miracle stories to demonstrate the various ways that religiously affiliated women managed for a socially marginalized population the daily experience of health and illness. In this essay I explore how people came to believe in a saint’s ability to heal, how they adapted their feelings and intentions to affective models provided by her vita and miracles, and how they recounted their experiences of this adaptation in stories of bodily healing. I argue that, by examining the healing community that sick petitioners formed around female saints, we might come to recognize whole new categories of health on which medieval medical resources were premised. Furthermore, as scholars of religion, we may better understand the affective and devotional mechanisms through which the sick and indigent came to experience relief. [Reproduced from the journal's page on the Project Muse website.