The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: The Cult of Vincent Ferrer in Medieval and Early Modern Europe by Laura Ackerman SmollerThe Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: The Cult of Vincent Ferrer in Medieval and Early Modern Europe by Laura Ackerman Smoller

The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: The Cult of Vincent Ferrer in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

byLaura Ackerman Smoller

Hardcover | January 28, 2014

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Vincent Ferrer (1350–1419), a celebrated Dominican preacher from Valencia, was revered as a living saint during his lifetime, receiving papal canonization within fifty years of his death. In The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby, Laura Ackerman Smoller recounts the fascinating story of how Vincent became the subject of widespread devotion, ranging from the saint's tomb in Brittany to cult centers in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and Latin America, where Vincent is still venerated today. Along the way, Smoller traces the long and sometimes contentious process of establishing a stable image of a new saint.

Vincent came to be epitomized by a singularly arresting miracle tale in which a mother kills, chops up, and cooks her own baby, only to have the child restored to life by the saint's intercession. This miracle became a key emblem in the official portrayal of the saint promoted by the papal court and the Dominican order, still haunted by the memory of the Great Schism (1378–1414) that had rent the Catholic Church for nearly forty years. Vincent, however, proved to be a potent religious symbol for others whose agendas did not necessarily align with those of Rome. Whether shoring up the political legitimacy of Breton or Aragonese rulers, proclaiming a new plague saint, or trumpeting their own holiness, individuals imposed their own meanings on the Dominican saint.

Drawing on nuanced readings of canonization inquests, hagiography, liturgical sources, art, and devotional materials, Smoller tracks these various appropriations from the time of Vincent’s 1455 canonization through the eve of the Enlightenment. In the process, she brings to life a long, raucous discussion ranging over many centuries. The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby restores the voices of that conversation in all its complexity.

Laura Ackerman Smoller is Professor of History at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is the author of History, Prophecy, and the Stars: The Christian Astrology of Pierre d'Ailly, 1350–1420.
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Title:The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: The Cult of Vincent Ferrer in Medieval and Early Modern EuropeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:9.25 × 6.13 × 0.39 inPublished:January 28, 2014Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801452171

ISBN - 13:9780801452178

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Table of Contents

Prologue: From Preacher to Saint
1. The Situation
2. The Process of Canonization
3. Shaping the Narratives of the Saint
4. Creating the Offi cial Image of the Saint
5. Competing Stories: Whose Vincent Ferrer Is It Anyway?
6. The Afterlife of the Chopped-Up Baby: The Sixteenth Century and Beyond
Epilogue: Saint Vincent Ferrer in the Spanish Americas

Editorial Reviews

"The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby covers the story of Vincent Ferrer and his cult in such a masterful fashion that it will undoubtedly be the standard work in its field for a long time to come. Laura Ackerman Smoller's thoroughness is remarkable. She has plumbed every depth of the story and managed to turn it into an entertaining and relevant tale—a noteworthy achievement."—Robin Vose, St. Thomas University, author of Dominicans, Muslims and Jews in the Medieval Crown of Aragon