instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, July 13, 2013

'Twas ever thus

I've now finished reading Lay Sanctity, Medieval and Modern: A Search for Models, edited by Ann W. Astell (which you can still order for $5, through August 15, using the checkout code "NDEOVR13"). I found the essays on the modern models far stronger, as a group, than the essays on the medieval models. Partly because the latter group took a more academic approach (even skeptical, in the case of Patricia Healy Wasyliw's "The Pious Infant: Developments in Popular Piety during the High Middle Ages"), and partly because, since the models themselves weren't particularly trying to model anything, the essayists tended to try harder to draw a lesson or make a point or link the material to a theme, whereas the essays on 20th Century models -- Elisabeth Leseur, Gertraud von Bullion, the Maritains, Dorothy Day, and Chiara Lubich -- could allow the models themselves to speak their own lessons.

While her essay on medieval children whose deaths at a young age produced religious cults was by far my least favorite, Patricia Healy Wasyliw did write what is by far my favorite sentence of the collection -- in fact, one of my favorite sentences ever. In reference to the short but storied life of St. Nicholas the Pilgrim, she states:
Throughout his career, popular opinion was divided on the question of whether he was holy or insane.
To-may-to, to-mah-to.