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IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 312: Something for the Pain, II: Pain for Eternity, or Eternal Pain in the Middle Ages

Monday 10 July 2006, 16.30-18.00

Sponsor:Oswald von Wolkenstein-Gesellschaft
Organiser:Arnold Otto, Erzbischöfliches Generalvikariat Erzbistumsarchiv, Paderborn
Moderator/Chair:Arnold Otto, Erzbischöfliches Generalvikariat Erzbistumsarchiv, Paderborn
Respondent:Albrecht Diem, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Paper 312-aPain as a Way to Eternal Salvation in the Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Käthe Sonnleitner, Institut für Geschichte, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Index terms: Daily Life, Lay Piety, Mentalities, Social History
Paper 312-bPain in Hagiographical Tradition and Everyday Reality: The Case of Antonio Gallonio, 1556-1605
(Language: English)
Jetze Touber, Faculteit der Letteren, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Index terms: Hagiography, Mentalities, Social History
Paper 312-cPain in Religion, Art, and Life (unconfirmed)
(Language: English)
Tina N. Bradley, University of Edinburgh
Index terms: Medicine

In the Middle Ages, encountering pain was a very common phenomenon. Pain itself is a physical phenomenon in which information about bodily mistreatment is directed to the brain in a biochemical way. The actual encountering of pain, however, is a challenge to a human being’s understanding of his life, and an ongoing source of various emotions, reaching from anxious avoidance to heroic acceptance, to devout ways of living it up. The papers in these two sessions seek to investigate the various ways people dealt with pain in the Middle Ages and its aftermath.

Abstract paper -b: Antonio Gallonio (1556-1605) has published various books, including a treatise on the instruments used to torture Christian martyrs, and the first biography of Saint Philip Neri. In the treatise on torture instruments, pain is mentioned on every page, but apparently always as a hagiographical topos, in order to link the physical atrocities to spiritual profit. The vitae of Saint Philip Neri contain dozens of diseases, colorfully described together with their miraculous healings, based on the testimonies of contemporary witnesses. They seem to offer a panorama of the different spiritual opportunities offered by physical suffering in the living reality of 16th-century Rome. In the paper at Leeds, I will try to discuss how Gallonio in his writings integrates the experience of pain in the Counter Reformation with the hagiographical traditions of physical suffering, martyrdom, and miraculous healing.

Abstract paper -c: Pain was a prevalent theme throughout the Middle Ages in religion, art, and daily life. Jesus' torture and crucifixion; the Church's desire that her clerics replicate His suffering and sacrifice; miracle stories; religious art; and the martyrs were all tools utilised by the Church to explain pain. Accidents, illness, and criminal punishments provided ample connaissance of this emotion. Phlebotomy and the fear of surgery testify that pain also accompanied cures. Indeed, all aspects of life exhibit the importance of pain in the medieval l'ésprit. Comprehending the role of pain offers vital insight into better understanding of the medieval world.