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Saints and their CommunitiesMiracle Stories in Twelfth-Century England$
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Simon Yarrow

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199283637

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199283637.001.0001

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The Hand of St James at Reading

The Hand of St James at Reading

Chapter:
(p.190) 7 The Hand of St James at Reading
Source:
Saints and their Communities
Author(s):

Simon Yarrow (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199283637.003.0007

This chapter discusses the cult of the hand of St James of Reading. The hand of St James belonged to a universal saint with no historical connection to Reading abbey. The relic came into the Reading monks' possession through a royal gift and that the abbey itself was an important royal foundation. The relic of St James's hand thus brought new and invaluable associations with it to Reading — associations with an internationally renowned saint's cult, and associations that cemented existing ties with the Anglo–Norman dynasty. In its early decades, the abbey amassed an impressive collection of relics from diverse sources. None of them succeeded in dislodging the hand from its chief position, symbolizing as it did for the Reading monks the fundamental ties that existed between themselves and successive English rulers. That it was the aim of a miracle collection, compiled in the 1190s, to emphasize these connections, particularly those with royalty, on behalf of the Reading monks, which is the central theme of the chapter.

Keywords:   cult, St James of Reading, miracle collection, Reading monks, Reading abbey

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