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Grant number: FT-60700-13

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Sara Ritchey
University of Louisiana, Lafayette (Lafayette, LA 70503-2014)

Narrative and Belief in Thirteenth-Century Healing Communities

This project provides new insight into the histories of medicine and religion in the later Middle Ages by examining the lives of female healers who provided care to socially-marginalized persons. In the thirteenth-century southern Low Countries, locally-revered "holy women" served the social and spiritual needs of the sick and indigent by feeding, visiting, clothing and praying for them in hospitals, infirmaries, and privately in homes as nurses, caretakers, and assistants to the dead and dying. Many people in their communities began to revere these women as "saints," and congregated around their tombs and relics, where they formed healing communities, non-institutional social networks dedicated to the acquisition of cures. Using hagiographical and archival materials, and harnessing new theoretical insights from the medical humanities and critical religious studies, this book project tells their story, and thus reveals a new history of premodern illness experiences and healing options.

Project fields:
Medieval Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2013 – 7/31/2013