By Peter Brown

Following the autumn of the Roman Empire within the West, the cult of the saints was once the dominant type of faith in Christian Europe. during this elegantly written paintings, Peter Brown explores the function of tombs, shrines, relics, and pilgrimages hooked up with the sacred our bodies of the saints. He indicates how women and men dwelling in harsh and infrequently barbaric instances relied upon the merciful intercession of the holy lifeless to acquire justice, forgiveness, and to discover new how you can settle for their fellows. demanding the typical therapy ofthe cult as an endemic of superstition one of the reduce sessions, Brown demonstrates how this way of religiousity engaged the best minds of the Church and elicited from individuals of the trained top periods a few of their so much wonderful achievements in poetry, literature, and the patronage of the humanities.

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46 Once obtained, it mapped out in a peculiarly blatant manner, in terms of proximity to the saint, the balance of social power within the Christian community. The tension between the community of the dead and the demands of private status has always presented paradoxes to toy with: Here lie I at the chapel door, Here lie I because I'm poor. The further in the more you pay. 47 But it also raised a deeper issue: the relation between communal and private care of the souls of the dead. When Au- 35 II A Fine and Private Place" gustine wrote the De cura gerenda pro n10rtuis, this was at the forefront of his concerns.

92 There was much to be gained from such a shift. Christians who trooped out, on ever more frequent and clearly defined occasions as the fourth century progressed,93 experienced in a mercifully untaxing form the thrill of passing an invisible frontier: they left a world of highly explicit structures for a "liminal" state. As Victor Turner has pointed out, the abandonment of known structures for a situation where such structures are absent, and the consequent release of spontaneous fellow feeling, are part of the enduring appeal of the experience of pilgrimage in settled societies.

Excessive celebration of funerary rites, undue expressions of loyalty to the memory or to the tombs of the dead, could become a lever by which one group might hope to assert themselves, in the name of the departed, among their living fellows. The grave, precisely because it was "a fine and private place," could be a point of tension between the family and the community. Hence a fluctuation, at all periods of the history of the Mediterranean, in the treatment of the memory of the dead as this might be expressed in any tangible forms that reached beyond the immediate circle of bereaved kin and friends-in funeral rites, in burial customs, and in the form taken by periodic celebrations.

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