By Robert A. Scott
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Additional info for Miracle Cures: Saints, Pilgrimage, and the Healing Powers of Belief
Instead, it connotes clusters of memberships in different kinds of groups: households, neighborhoods, villages, parishes, guilds, and workshops, as well as counties, regions, and nationstates. 107 Religious belief and practice powerfully reinforced this sense of community. Early modern Christian communities centered on the parish and its teachings: belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, as well as the obligation of parishioners to confess their sins, take communion, and attend mass. ”108 Another historian writes: Life in the Middle Ages / 27 “Religious life for Medieval Christians was predominantly a communal experience.
Discussing the Chronica Majora, by Matthew Paris, which covers the years 1236–59, the historian Malcolm Barber comments: “No year passes . . without some comment on rain and ﬂoods, on drought, on wind and storms, on frost, hail and snow, on the state of the air and atmospheric disturbances, on the tides, on earthquakes . . [and] . . ”19 Another source, describing the years 1086–1348, speaks of the “precariousness of life, deriving . . ”20 Though few people seem to have actually starved to death, malnutrition was endemic.
This page intentionally left blank part one Appealing to Saints for Miracles This page intentionally left blank chapter one Life in the Middle Ages The German sociologist Max Weber once wrote: “The most elementary forms of behavior motivated by religious . . ”1 He identiﬁes one of religion’s most important functions as offering the hope of protection and relief from suffering and distress. 5 This pithy phrase is accurate in many respects, but it obscures an important point. When we look back 3 4 / Appealing to Saints for Miracles on medieval times from the vantage point of the twenty-ﬁrst century, we tend to focus on the things that we have that were lacking then: amenities, technologies, conveniences, public services, and civic institutions that most of us take completely for granted and consider essential to our existence.