Date of Award

12-1995

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Rozanne Elder

Second Advisor

Dr. Lucian Rosu

Third Advisor

Dr. Larry Simon

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

A hierarchical ranking of posthumous corporal signs of sanctity in Anglo-Saxon hagiography may be seen in the cult of St. Cuthbert to have elevated flexible joints above other supplements, such as the posthumous healing of the saint's corpse, to incorruptness and elevated unsupplemented incorruptness above other posthumous corporal signs of sanctity, such as radiance or the odor of sanctity. As an unusual supplement to incorruptness, flexible joints appeared first around the tum of the eighth century in Cuthbert's cult in two vitae, one by an anonymous Lindisfame monk and one by the Venerable Bede, and later in the eleventh century histories by Symeon of Durham. Writing in the twelfth century, Reginald of Durham asserted Cuthbert's superiority over other saints, that Cuthbert's incorrupt state gave him the miraculous edge over saints, like Thomas a Becket despite his fame, whose bodies suffered corruption. Cuthbert's holiness was superior even to that of Edmund and Etheldreda, for both of whom incorruptness and posthumous healing were claimed. Consequently, Reginald demonstrated that flexible joints in Cuthbert's cult superseded posthumous healing in other cults as a sign of sanctity. Reginald reflected popular sentiment at Durham by showing Cuthbert's superior holiness in his miracle tales, and for modem students of hagiography, by showing that Anglo-Saxon Christians regarded flexible joints as a manifestation of greater sanctity and divine favor than posthumous healing.

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