Create a Saint (Medieval Culture Class)

 It is designed to help you to “think medieval-y,” to immerse yourself in the culture we are studying. [Do take a look at the Preparatory Questions on Mary and the Saints that follows this page.] “Saints Lives” were a staple of medieval literature. All four “estates” of society were addicted to them. You have examples in MLT and in the chapters from Emile Male on Mary and the saints. Saints lives are not biography per se, but rather are called “hagiography.” They are less concerned with historical accuracy than they were with the marvels of their stories. Saints serve as models of the faith, having been cleansed, and as intercessors for those whose lives are fairly mundane or flawed. You are asked to construct the profile of a saint as if he or she were a member of medieval society. It should be at least one page in length. ASSIGNMENT: Create an imaginary medieval saint (500-1400), by combining the elements below into a coherent story. Give your saint a name, geographical home, social estate, and date of birth and death. Create a life story for your saint, providing most of the necessary details to qualify as a “saint’s life.” These might include evidence of specialness from childhood, holiness and zeal, asceticism, victimization or persecution, refusal to recant the faith, conversion of others, miraculous survival and/or the ability to perform miracles, exorcism of demons, good works, and reappearances after death. In other words, tell us stories about your saint. Do tell us when your protagonist was canonized as a saint by the Church. Note how he or she would be symbolized in art (manuscript illuminations and cathedral sculpture or stained glass). Note for whom in especial he or she serves as patron or intercessor. This might be a specific trade, a social class, or an underrepresented group, for example. Note his or her saint’s day in the calendar, explaining why that date was chosen. Was the saint born or martyred or canonized on that date? Note where his or her relics might be visited. These might include the original place of interment. Do give me an outline or one-page summary of the data above. PREPARATORY QUESTIONS ON MARY AND THE SAINTS: MARY: Not a member of the Trinity, the mother of Jesus was the most beloved figure in scripture and apocrypha, and was the most revered of the saints. You are asked to account for the powerful hold of the Virgin Mary on the hearts and minds of medieval people, by answering the following: –What do we know about her from biblical sources? –How do apocryphal sources and legends fill out the details of her life, and to what purpose? –How do stories of her miracles (the “miracles of the Virgin) establish her as an unconventional saint? –What attributes does she represent that are missing in the Trinity? –What human needs does she fulfill? –How is she represented in medieval art and cathedrals? THE SAINTS: Consider the following questions: — What is a saint? What is the saint’s role in medieval religion? Why and how are they revered? –What role/s did saints play in the everyday lives of medieval people? — How does hagiography differ from biography? What are the essential elements that seem to be included in a “saint’s life”? –How are saints most often represented in cathedral art? How do we know who they are? –How did saints contribute to the medieval relish for the marvelous and for miracles? –What is a reliquary, and what role did the relics of saints play in medieval religious and economic life? –What is a shrine and what is a pilgrimage? For what purpose/s did one go on pilgrimage?

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