Landscape with Two Saints

Hardcover | May 17, 2009

byLisa M. Bitel

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Lisa Bitel uses the history of two unique holy women--Genovefa of Paris (ca. 420-509) and Brigit of Kildare (ca.452-524)--their churches and cults, and the many generations of their devotees to reveal how ordinary Europeans lived through Christianization at the dawn of the Middle Ages. Within about fifty years, and at a time when women had only recently been barred from leadership of Christian communities, one of these saints built churches within the bounds of the world's greatest empire, while the other was inspired by dreams of that fading empire to build Christian cities onthe barbarian frontier. Each became a translator of cultures, bringing romanitas (Roman-ness) to her homeland and attracting vast numbers of converts to Christianity. Bitel uses both written and material remains to recreate the cities where Genovefa and Brigit lived and worked, the roads theytraveled, and the places where Christians and pagans worshipped. Following the trail of these two saints, she plots the course of Christianization across northern Europe, showing how both people and places became Christian. Most converts did not have a sudden epiphany, Bitel argues. Instead theylearned and lived their new religion in continuous conversation with preachers, saints, rulers, and neighbors. Together, they built their faith over many years, brick by brick, into their churches and shrines, cemeteries, houses, and even their markets and farms. Today, the stone fragments of theirchurches and the archaeological rubbish of fields where saints Genovefa and Brigit once walked reveal what the written words of medieval missionaries and theologians cannot: the active participation of converts in the history of their own religious conversion. Drawing on disciplines as diverse as history, landscape history, religion, architecture, archaeology, and Celtic studies, this penetrating study not only tells the engaging story of two legendary women, but also illuminates the pervasive influence of gender, ethnicity, and landscape on the complexprocess of religious conversion.

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Lisa Bitel uses the history of two unique holy women--Genovefa of Paris (ca. 420-509) and Brigit of Kildare (ca.452-524)--their churches and cults, and the many generations of their devotees to reveal how ordinary Europeans lived through Christianization at the dawn of the Middle Ages. Within about fifty years, and at a time when women...

Lisa Bitel is Professor of History, Religion, and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:May 17, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195336526

ISBN - 13:9780195336528

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