1st Edition

New Saints in Late-Mediaeval Venice, 1200–1500 A Typological Study

By Karen E. McCluskey Copyright 2020
    268 Pages 31 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    268 Pages 31 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book focuses on the comparatively unknown cults of new saints in late-mediaeval Venice. These new saints were near-contemporary citizens who were venerated by their compatriots without official sanction from the papacy. In doing so, the book uncovers a sub-culture of religious expression that has been overlooked in previous scholarship.

    The study highlights a myriad of hagiographical materials, both visual and textual, created to honour these new saints by members of four different Venetian communities: The Republican government; the monastic orders, mostly Benedictine; the mendicant orders; and local parishes. By scrutinising the hagiographic portraits described in painted vita panels, written vitae, passiones, votive images, sermons and sepulchre monuments, as well as archival and historical resources, the book identifies a specifically Venetian typology of sanctity tied to the idiosyncrasies of the city’s site and history.

    By focusing explicitly on local typological traits, the book produces an intimate and complex portrait of Venetian society and offers a framework for exploring the lived religious experience of late-mediaeval societies beyond the lagoon. As a result, it will be of keen interest to scholars of Venice, lived religion, hagiography, mediaeval history and visual culture.

    Introduction: Santi novellini in the later Middle Ages

    1 Global aspirations: Venice as locus sanctus

    2 Cults in the state

    3 Cults in the cloister

    4 Cults in mendicant communities

    5 Cults in the parish

    Conclusion: Sanctity alla veneziana


    Karen E. McCluskey is Senior Lecturer and Discipline Head (History) at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney, where she teaches mediaeval and Renaissance history, art history and historiography.

    'Partly inspired by innovative studies by French scholar André Vauchez on saints’ cults and popular piety in late medieval Europe, McCluskey offers an original intervention on saintly typologies and their cultic expressions in Venice. Shifting away from broad geographical and chronological spans, the author narrows her focus to investigate how Venetian communities perceived, remembered, and interacted with their saints in their daily lives. To reconstruct the lived and multilayered relationships between devotees and their saints, the author analyzes a multitude of visual and textual sources, including hagiographic portraits painted in vita panels, written vitae, votive images, relics, sermons, sepulcher monuments, and as archival records. By doing so, the author offers a clear picture of the Venetian social groups that created new saints and endorsed them.'

    - Giulia Giamboni, PhD, University of California, EuropeNow Jounral

    "This book should prove useful for scholars working on the broad topic of sainthood and society as well as for specialists of medieval and early modern Venice. Purely as a city-specific study, it fills a lacuna in the historiography of medieval Italian religious devotion, and many may find this book valuable simply for its profiles of several underanalyzed late medieval saints and their cults." - Daniel W. Morgan, Independent Scholar