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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2002

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2002

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Subject:

Re: Adelheid of Vilich (3. February)

From:

Dennis Martin <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 3 Feb 2002 19:10:04 -0600

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

This is basically a "grandfather clause" built into the shift from medieval to early modern processes of beatification and canonization.

When Urban VIII reserved the authoritative investigation of sainthood to a process that began at the diocesan level but was fundamentally undertaken in Rome (1640s)  and made it stick (the claim had been made earlier but not enforced), an exception was made for beatification on the basis of a cult that had existed from time immemorial.   Usually these were relatively local cults, because saints venerated across wide areas usually had enough interest to stimulate a regular Roman investigation leading to canonization after a formal process (e.g., St. Francis, St.Hugh of Lincoln etc., following procedures asserted by Alexander III).

But even so, someone has to petition for a confirmation of cult, just as someone has to petition for a formal investigation process (in Hugh of Lincoln's case, it was the English bishops and the king).  Presumably in this case, for whatever reasons, no one petitioned.  In the case of local cults, often it is the diocesan bishop for the area in which the cult flourished or the religious order to whom the person belonged.

In this case, one would need first to establish the date of beatification.  That might have been centuries earlier, based on recognition of existing cult and the 1966 decree then would have recognized 2 additional authenticated miracles after beatification.  However, "formal recognition" in 1966 would seem to indicate beatification rather than canonization, since canonization, since Urban VIII, as far as I know, does not take place by means of recognition of cult.  (I invite correction on this point from those who know better.)  That is why so many "blesseds" remain beatified for centuries--no authenticated  miracles have occurred.

To learn what happened in this case one would have to dig into the local history to find out who petitioned for beatification and when (often the local bishop did so, out of understandable local pride).  If the 1966 "recognitio" was indeed for beatification rather than canonization, then something distracted local authorities from petitioning earlier or something stimulated interest at that level in a preexisting cult about that time.  The cult had to have been ongoing since the 12thc, but something moved officials to ask for formal recognition of what had simply been a local, popular devotion.

The majority of 19thc beatifications were in fact by means of recognition of existing cult.  This reflects the 19thc preoccupation in many parts of Europe with local medieval history in the context of an industrializing and modernizing world, it also reflects the pressure against Catholic cults of saints during the Enlightenment in many areas and the renewed self-confidence of the Church in some countries after the French-Revolution/Napoleonic period.

The system permits a means of formally authorizing local veneration (beatification permits liturgical veneration in the local diocese[s] or the religious order to which the person belonged) and gets around the problem of the immense expense and energy required to mount a formal investigative process into life and writings, which tended to restrict canonizations between the 18th and late 20thc to members of religious orders or highly popular saints with extensive and widespread followings.  However it had a built in safe-guard against local idiosyncracies and abuses, since, for canonization, additional miracles had to take place.  Thus the first stage of veneration (local) could be recognized and given a place in the wide diversity of the church  without passing the ultimate judgment about sainthood (presence) in heaven that drew on the highest level of authority in the church, namely canonization.  Canonization thus could not take place without rigorous investigative procedures appropriate to investing a matter with the highest level of authority; beatification could take place on the strength of local authority alone.

The local cult did have to have lasted for a long time before Urban VIII's time, so this recognition of cult option applies largely to saints from the Middle Ages.  Blessed and saints who lived and died after 1500, for the most part, would have undergone the standard Roman process.  After Urban VIII, even local liturgical veneration of a just deceased person of reputed sanctity was forbidden until after the investigation was finished (the process could not even begin until 50 years after the person's death, though information could be collected by pious associations).  So no local cult could emerge that then could be claimed as a basis for beatification.

Dennis Martin

>>> [log in to unmask] 02/03/02 03:54PM >>>
medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Dear John
The term used by Phyllis Jestice was: "cult formally approved in 1966".
I do not know what was decided in Rome in 1966, but:
Adelheid has really been a formally acknowled saint for centuries.
Locally is her cult well documented (especially in Pützchen, where her
reliquies are), she was included in the Acta Sanctorum in 1658 (Febr. I,
p.713-721), and the eminent "Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche" Vol.1, 1957,
has a separate article on her (col.142), specifically mentioned as *Saint*
(Feast February 5! - although her death was on the 3rd of February). The
"formal approval" in 1966 is most probably only a formality in conjunction
with the massive revisions during the Vatican Council II. (Could perhaps be
about the official date?)
As I see it, is her case not comparable to the other female saints where a
very late canonization has puzzled some members of this list.
Best
Erik Drigsdahl

At 22:19 -0500 02/02/02, [log in to unmask] wrote:
>Dear Phyllis: Any ideas about why Adelheid of Vilich (d. sometime
>between 1010 and 1020) was not canonized until l966?
> John

_____________________________________________________________________

Mag.art. Erik Drigsdahl   CHD Center for Haandskriftstudier i Danmark
Kapelvej 25B 3.tv         Phone: +45 +35 37 20 47
DK-2200 Copenhagen N      Email: <[log in to unmask]>
DENMARK                   http://www.chd.dk 

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