The Patriotism of the Holy Hermit Nicholas
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.
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