There is a long tradition of telling the story of the life and death of a saint in a written biographical account known as a hagiography; such accounts have often been seen as providing the basis for what we know about saints. "Saints Alive" ...
advances the discussion of conceptions of sainthood by arguing that written text is only one step in the gradual construction of a more holistic text that includes visual iconography as well as the venerating performances of a saint's devotees. David Williams shows that images associated with saints are not simply illustrations of written accounts, nor are the gestures, prayers and liturgical practices of devotees of saints' cults simply derivative of them. Rather, images and enactments expand and complete the text, adding visual and dramatic dimensions. Williams demonstrates his ideas through discussion and case studies of three saints: the biblical figure of Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin; the medieval English martyr Saint Thomas Becket; and Saint Maximillian Mary Kolbe, who gave his life to save that of another in the Auschwitz concentration camp. A remarkable study of text, image, and enactment, "Saints Alive" presents a complete study of the depiction of saints that will change the way they are understood.
Number of pages: 264
Date of publication: 25/01/2011
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