Presence, Place, Period, and Principle: A Medievalist's Reflections on Robert Bartlett's Book about Saints

Richard Kieckhefer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The title of Robert Bartlett's book on saints, Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things?, comes from Saint Augustine, who thought of heaven as a preeminently social environment. It is thus easy to entertain a fantasy about a conversation among saints in heaven. One saint boasts that his feast day has a higher liturgical ranking than the others'. This provokes a second saint to point out that the first may have a grand feast day, but is not, like himself, the subject of a properly papal canonization. A third saint is proud of his artistic representations. A fourth points out that he is so important that he is mentioned in Robert Bartlett's latest book. But this boast backfires. All the saints burst into laughter. As one of them points out, That's nothing special - we're all in Bartlett's book! He didn't miss any of us!

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-802
Number of pages10
JournalChurch History
Volume85
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies

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