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 24, 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.
Title:The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: The Cult of Vincent Ferrer in Medieval and Early Modern EuropeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.39 inPublished:January 24, 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 is one of the most original books in the field of religious history that I have read in some time. It will serve as a new model for how historians might study a saint. Laura Ackerman Smoller takes all the sources—the saint of the canonization inquest, the saint of hagiography, and the saint of the fresco, altarpiece, and statue—and integrates them in a way that I cannot recall anyone ever having done before. She provides a superb reading of each individual component and a truly bravura reading of the inquest records. Smoller's fine-grained analysis of the continuous evolution of the cult of Saint Vincent is especially noteworthy. This is interdisciplinary history at its finest." - Philip Daileader, The College of William & Mary, author of True Citizens: Violence, Memory, and Identity in the Medieval Community of Perpignan, 1162–1397