The aim of this paper is to reconstruct the way in which early modern science questioned and indirectly influenced (being in its turn influenced by) the conceptualization of the liquefaction of the blood of Saint Januarius, a phenomenon that has been taking place at regular intervals in Naples since the late Middle Ages. Beginning in the 17th century a debate arose that divided Europe between supporters of a theory of divine intervention and believers in the occult properties of the blood. These two theoretical options reflected two different perspectives on the relationship between the natural and the supernatural. While in the 17th century emphasis was placed on the predictable periodicity of the miraculous event of liquefaction as a manifestation of God in his role as a divine regulator, in the following century – in order to differentiate miracles from the workings of nature, which were deemed to be more normative – the event came to be described as capricious and unpredictable. The miracle of the blood of Saint Januarius provides a window through which to study how the natural order was perceived in early modern Europe at a time when the continent was highly fragmented, with dichotomies dividing north vs. south, Protestantism vs. Catholicism, learning vs. ignorance, etc.

Thinking with the Saint. The Miracle of Saint Januarius of Naples and Science in Early Modern Europe

DE CEGLIA, Francesco Paolo
2014-01-01

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to reconstruct the way in which early modern science questioned and indirectly influenced (being in its turn influenced by) the conceptualization of the liquefaction of the blood of Saint Januarius, a phenomenon that has been taking place at regular intervals in Naples since the late Middle Ages. Beginning in the 17th century a debate arose that divided Europe between supporters of a theory of divine intervention and believers in the occult properties of the blood. These two theoretical options reflected two different perspectives on the relationship between the natural and the supernatural. While in the 17th century emphasis was placed on the predictable periodicity of the miraculous event of liquefaction as a manifestation of God in his role as a divine regulator, in the following century – in order to differentiate miracles from the workings of nature, which were deemed to be more normative – the event came to be described as capricious and unpredictable. The miracle of the blood of Saint Januarius provides a window through which to study how the natural order was perceived in early modern Europe at a time when the continent was highly fragmented, with dichotomies dividing north vs. south, Protestantism vs. Catholicism, learning vs. ignorance, etc.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11586/63864
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