September 29, 2011
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v2.1 Reference

Contested Canonizations

The Last Medieval Saints, 1482-1523

Pope John Paul II famously canonized more saints than all his predecessors combined. Several of these candidates were controversial. To this day there remain holy men and women "on the books" of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints whose canonization would provoke considerable debate. This was no less true during the period covered in this pioneering study by renowned medieval historian Ronald C. Finucane.

This work, which forms an important bridge between medieval and Counter-Reformation sanctity and canonization, provides a richly contextualized analysis of the ways in which the last five candidates for sainthood before the Reformation came to be canonized. Finucane uncovers the complex interplay of factors that lay behind the success of such campaigns; success that could never be taken for granted, even when the candidate's holy credentials appeared uncontroversial and his backers politically powerful.

Written by a master of the historical craft whose studies on miracles and popular religion for the high Middle Ages have long been an important point of reference for students, this work presents brilliantly reconstructed case studies of the last five successful canonization petitions of the Middle Ages: Bonaventure, Leopold of Austria, Francis of Paola, Antoninus of Florence, and Benno of Meissen.


Ronald Finucane died at the height of his critical powers in 2009, shortly after he submitted this work for publication. Distinguished professor of history at Oakland University, he was the author of four books including Miracles and Pilgrims: Popular Beliefs in Medieval England and Soldiers of the Faith: Crusaders and Moslems at War, both History Book Club selections. This book was brought to publication by Simon Ditchfield, reader in history at the University of York.


"In this meticulously researched and carefully structured study, Finucane establishes his work as a critical touchstone for future studies of canonization procedures and their revision in the early modern period."—David Collins, S.J., associate professor of history, Georgetown University

"On the surface, the book is a meticulous, detailed but fairly traditional discussion of the processes, or politics, if you will, of saint-making. However, Finucane's use of a case study approach allows him to find important commonalities among successful canonization cases without losing the inevitable complexity involved in the pursuit of each one . . . There is a great deal to learn from this book." —American Historical Review


"This is an erudite study; Finucane makes thorough and careful use of his sources and of other scholarship."—John W. Coakley, Journal of Ecclesiastical History
The Catholic University of America Press

9780813218755 : contested-canonizations-finucane
288 Pages
$75.00 USD

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