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Reforming SaintsSaints' Lives and Their Authors in Germany, 1470-1530$
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David J. Collins

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195329537

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329537.001.0001

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 Reforming the Church

 Reforming the Church

Humanist Authors and Bishop Saints

(p.19) 1 Reforming the Church
Reforming Saints

David J. Collins (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter draws attention to the type of saints which appeared most frequently in the humanist hagiography, the holy bishop. These holy bishops, drawn from all eras of Germany's ancient and medieval past, consistently modelled a way of achieving church reform that was predicated on a sense of Christianity's lamentable state and the bishops' proper role as the agent of reform. Humanist authors embedded their perceptions of contemporary problems and their proposed solutions in the vitae of the ancient and medieval holy bishops: The German peoples needed a re‐evangelization in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries analogous to the evangelization of pagan tribes by missionary bishops centuries before. The confidence in the holy bishop was decidedly more emphatic in this period than it had been in previous centuries; lives of holy bishops had been much neglected in the later Middle Ages. The attractiveness of this plan for reform was not limited to humanists but drew the authors into alliances with like‐minded patrons and devotees beyond narrow humanist circles.

Keywords:   bishop, hagiography, humanist, Christianity, evangelization, missionaries, patrons, reform, saint

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