1st Edition

Making Miracles in Medieval England

By Tom Lynch Copyright 2023

    The cult of the saints was central to medieval Christianity largely due to the miraculous. Saints were members of the elect of heaven and could intercede with God on the behalf of supplicants. Whilst people visited shrines and prayed to the saints for many reasons it was the hope of intercession and the praise of miracles past which drove the cult of the saints.

    This book examines how a person solicited aid from a saint, how they might give thanks and the ways in which post-mortem miracles structured the cult of the saints. A huge number of miracle stories survive from medieval England, in dedicated collections as well as in saints’ lives and other source material. This corpus is full of stories of human relationships, vulnerability and deliverance of people from all parts of society. These stories reveal all manner of details about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. They also show us how people navigated the world with the aid of the saints. Saints could help with wayward livestock, lost property or lawsuits as well as fire, plague and injury. They could also protect members of their communities, correct lapses by their custodians and even kill those who mistreated them. A respectful relationship with a saint could be proof against any problem.

    Making Miracles in Medieval England will appeal to all those interested in religious practices in medieval England, medieval English culture, and medieval perceptions of miracles.


    Chapter I – Writing Miracles

    Chapter II – Making Shrines

    Chapter III – Petitioning the Saints

    Chapter IV – Retribution and Reconciliation

    Chapter V – Giving Thanks for Miracles


    Appendix I – Saints in the Liturgy


    Tom Lynch studied at University College London, Royal Holloway and the University of Cambridge. He now works at the British Library and is interested in the interdisciplinary study of societies past and present.