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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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 Turning Swiss

 Turning Swiss

The Patriotism of the Holy Hermit Nicholas

(p.99) 4 Turning Swiss
Reforming Saints

David J. Collins (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter four examines how the Swiss began to transform the fifteenth‐century peasant‐turned‐recluse Nicholas of Flue into a patron saint for their slowly forming Swiss homeland. Nicholas became an exemplar of Swiss character that retained its appeal even as confessional divisions between Catholic and Reformed Christians hardened through the sixteenth century. This chapter reads the humanist compositions about Nicholas of Flue as an indicator of how the cities and regions making up the Swiss Confederation increasingly thought of themselves as a unified community and of how Nicholas posthumously could attenuate the religious, political, and social tensions across the Confederation that threatened its unity. In short, the case of Nicholas shows how saints could be turned into civic patrons in a new humanist mode.

Keywords:   Civic patron, hagiography, humanist, national patron, Nicholas of Flue, Reformation, saints, Swiss Confederation, Switzerland

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