Saints, Pilgrimage, and the Healing Powers of Belief
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Iconic images of medieval pilgrims, such as Chaucer’s making their laborious way to Canterbury, conjure a distant time when faith was the only refuge of the ill and infirm, and thousands traveled great distances to pray for healing. Why, then, in an age of advanced biotechnology and medicine, do millions still go on pilgrimages? Why do journeys to important religious shrines—such as Lourdes, Compostela, Fátima, and Medjugorje—constitute a major industry? In Miracle Cures, Robert A. Scott explores these provocative questions and finds that pilgrimage continues to offer answers for many. Its benefits can range from a demonstrable improvement in health to complete recovery. Using research in biomedical and behavioral science, Scott examines accounts of miracle cures at medieval, early modern, and contemporary shrines. He inquires into the power of relics, apparitions, and the transformative nature of sacred journeying and shines new light on the roles belief, hope, and emotion can play in healing.
Praise For Miracle Cures: Saints, Pilgrimage, and the Healing Powers of Belief…
“An intellectually fascinating book, Scott’s treatment will be eye-opening for students of history, theology, and human nature.”
— Library Journal
“Refreshing . . . objective and scholarly. . . . Fascinating it its depth, thoroughness, and detailed accounts of medieval life, the book is a good read.”
— Science (AAAS)
“Erudite and engaging.”
— Times News (Lehighton, Pa)
“The author carefully weaves detailed textual and historiographic work with the latest social scientific findings. . . . extremely valuable. . . . It represents a sophisticated integration of historical analysis of religious practice with the latest findings in medicine and the social sciences. Readers at all levels should enjoy this engaging but sophisticated book.”
“Engaging, compassionate book.”
— Teresa Malcom
University of California Press, 9780520271340, 272pp.
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
About the Author
Robert A. Scott, a sociologist, was for 18 years the deputy director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Among other books, he is the author of The Gothic Enterprise: A Guide to Understanding the Medieval Cathedral (UC Press).