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      Marie of Oignies, of Nivelles, or of Villers: The Multiple Textual Identities of a 13th-Century Holy Woman

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          Abstract

          Nancy Bradley Warren ( 2005: 133) maintains that ‘female spirituality and the revelations of holy women were valuable, and extremely valuable, sources of symbolic capital’ in the pre-modern era. In this article, I dissect the ways in which various authors harnessed the ‘symbolic capital’ of the 13th-century holy woman Marie of Oignies (d. 1213). Jacques of Vitry composed Marie’s vita in c. 1215. Most of what we know about the holy woman’s life is contained in this text, which offers us the first extant account of a new form of female spirituality which blossomed in the era, the beguine lifestyle. But Jacques’ account is only one of several iterations of Marie’s life. Two other texts offer significantly different textual constructions of the holy woman: a 13th-century liturgical office in Marie’s honour, and a chronicle of the foundation of Oignies’ priory. Each text manufactures distinct versions of Marie in order to siphon off the holy woman’s ‘symbolic capital’ to their own reserves. This entails a re-situation of Marie in each work – both literal and metaphorical – as she becomes a special patron not just of Oignies, but Nivelles, Villers Abbey, and the entire diocese of Liège. This investigation operates as a case study for the ways in which the precise contours of a saintly individual’s individuality may be fashioned differently by interested parties – specifically that of a hagiographer (Jacques of Vitry), monastic institution (Villers Abbey), and spiritual community (Oignies priory) – as a means to assert their own identity. Modern actors continue to trade on Marie’s reputation, as various Belgian towns seek to claim the holy woman as ‘one of their own’. In my conclusion, then, I demonstrate the ways in which Marie has become a tradable asset in the cultural heritage of the Walloon region.

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          Introduction

          The current edition of the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine features an overview of surgery as both an art and a science. This is a timely theme as surgery has undergone a rapid transition in the treatment of old diseases with new and minimally invasive techniques. The series of essays, scientific reviews, and original contributions reflects this transition. Charles B. Drucker describes the life and times of Ambroise Paré, the French barber-surgeon who replaced pedagogy with empirical observation. Application of his tenets resulted in humane treatment employing the intrinsic healing capacity of the body to repair injured tissues. Kwan, Irwin, and Leuver present a photo essay of surgical instruments in the collection of the Cushing-Whitney Medical Historical Library at Yale University. Daniel E. Hall describes the transition and maturation of the surgeon in training. He emphasizes the responsibility imparted to the surgeon who, through acquired knowledge and skill, is granted the privilege of exposing and repairing the tissues of another human being. The author, an ordained priest, presents a unique and parallel analogy of the operating theater and religious altar as holy places. Three sequential reviews in cardiac surgery emphasize the continuous refinements employed by the surgeon to treat diseases that have plagued humans throughout the course of recorded history. Sabet W. Hashim, a master of mitral valve repair, and colleagues describe the techniques employed to repair chronic mitral valve regurgitation. They emphasize the necessity of understanding and treating the underlying muscle pathology, including the papillary muscle and left ventricle. John A. Elefteriades presents an overview of thoracic aorta aneurysm repair by employing the analogy of reading the enemy’s playbook. There is perhaps no other individual in the world who has the depth of Dr. Elefteriades’s insights and experience. The third in the series by Toshiharu Shinoka and Christopher Breuer review groundbreaking tissue-engineering research being performed at the Yale University School of Medicine. This research is anticipated to result in the creation and implantation of the first tissue-engineered blood vessel replacements in the United States. Walter Longo and his colleagues in the Yale University Department of Surgery present original data on early specialization in surgery. This timely article has special significance as surgery is undergoing a transformation designed to address societal demands and the length and complexity of training the next generation of surgeons. Julie A. Freischlag presents a personal reflection of female surgeons in a male-dominated world. This issue of the Yale Journal of Biology of Medicine is both timely and informative. Adam Kaufman, a second-year medical student at the Yale University School of Medicine, is credited for his tireless organization and contributions.
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            Dialogus miraculorum

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              Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200–1565

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                15 May 2017
                : 3
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, UK
                Article
                10.16995/olh.88
                Copyright: © 2017 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                Self URI (journal-page): https://olh.openlibhums.org/
                Categories
                Authors, narratives, and audiences in medieval saints’ lives

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