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Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation
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Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  48 ratings  ·  9 reviews
From its earliest centuries, one of the most notable features of Christianity has been the veneration of the saints--the holy dead. This ambitious history tells the fascinating story of the cult of the saints from its origins in the second-century days of the Christian martyrs to the Protestant Reformation. Robert Bartlett examines all of the most important aspects of the ...more
Hardcover, 787 pages
Published November 10th 2013 by Princeton University Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Siria
This is without a doubt the most comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the cult of saints from the Roman period through to the Reformation, from Ireland in the west to Egypt and Palestine in the east. It's the kind of work that's possible only after a lifetime's work in the field, though for the most part Bartlett wears his scholarship lightly—I don't think this is a book that would be difficult for a non-specialist to read, even though at more than 600 pages it does require some degree of in ...more
Alice Lemon
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was very impressed by the detail Bartlett provided, and I learned quite a lot: definitely something I think my Medievalist and Papist friends would enjoy!
Fay
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very good overview over the medieval cult of saints from the late Roman Empire to the Reformation. Focuses on the Latin Christendom but also covers pre-catholic Ireland as well as the Middle East. Goes through the chronology of the development of the cult of the saints and then focuses on certain themes such as relics, literature, pilgrimage etc.

Particularly enjoyed because it is written in a way that is easy to be understood without sacrificing terminology and historical narratives of the cult
...more
Thomas
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most comprehensive history of the cult of the saints in print. Bartlett, a secular medieval scholar, draws from a vast well of primary material--much of it not available in English--to explain every facet of the history and practice of Saint veneration. Being the work of a historian rather than a believer, it lacks insight that faith could provide, and is notably weak on modern practice, but otherwise it's a superb work of scholarship.
Nick Swarbrick
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
About once a year I read a book that is genuinely satisfying: this book may be the one for this year. Phenomenally learned yet chatty, this was a challenge worth accepting; Bartlett is a great connector of threads, a good storyteller, a keen analyst, and gives a history of medieval sainthood that is engaging, quirky but founded in deep scholarship.
McKinley Turtle
Fascinating. Exhaustive. Exhausting. Easy to put down. Hard to pick up again. Essential.
Yvonne
May 03, 2014 is currently reading it
For anyone who has grown up with
saints and miracles this is a pretty fascinating book. We Catholics, former and otherwise, we're all named after one and likely had a favorite one . The book begins with an explanation of the history/beginnings of relics ( okay - for those of you who paid attention in religion class what laywoman comes to mind when you hear or read the word relics?). A somewhat ponderous book, to be sure, but definitely readable - albeit in small chunks. Anxious to hear from othe
...more
Ruth Dipple
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a magisterial study of the cult of the saints to the end of the Middle Ages. All important aspects are covered, with copious footnotes should the reader wish to pursue matters further. The geographical span is very wide, and there is even a comparison with the situation in Judaism, Islam and Eastern religions. My only reservation was about the use of statistics except to draw very broad conclusions, but otherwise it is a must for anyone interested in this aspect of Christianity.
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Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating history of the cult of saints. Good illustrations. Lots of things to ponder.
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“bread were being baked, or gold or silver purified in a furnace.” Afterwards the Christians of Smyrna wish to collect his remains, desiring “to have a share in his holy flesh.” Before they are allowed to do so, they have to overcome the objections of pagans and” 0 likes
“Bending an object in order to make it useless for its normal purpose and to show that it was votive was an ancient tradition—” 0 likes
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