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From authentic miracles to a rhetoric of authenticity: examples from the canonization and cult of St. Vincent Ferrer.

Historians of science have often looked to the authentication of miracles at canonization trials as a way to investigate the ways in which religious and scientific understandings of the natural and the miraculous came together and, sometimes, into conflict. Most historians of science who have forayed into the world of miracles have, understandably, stopped at the moment of a saint's canonization. Examining the treatment of a saint's miracles both before and after the canonization process, however, yields a different picture. Drawing upon materials from the 1455 canonization and subsequent cult of the Dominican Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419), this essay reveals, first, that papal approval marked only one of several ways in which miracles received publicly-accepted "authentication," and second, that, after the moment of canonization, the idea of carefully authenticated miracles became irrelevant not simply for the great masses of the faithful, but also for the ecclesiastical hierarchy, who adopted an ever shifting rhetoric of authenticity as authors used tales of the saint's "authentic" miracles to drive home their own various polemical points.


SINCE the thirteenth century, the development of the papal process of canonization produced a laboratory for the authentication of miracles. The process assured the college of cardinals a body of sworn, carefully vetted testimony gathered by trained notaries at local inquests; meanwhile, the cardinals themselves could reject putative miracles for which there were no eyewitnesses, for which several witnesses contradicted one another, and for which one could fred a clearly natural cause. (1) In the past decade or so, historians of science and medicine have been attracted to canonization records as places in which religious and scientific understandings of the natural and the miraculous came together and, sometimes, into conflict. For example, a number of scholars, including David Gentilcore, Joseph Ziegler, Jacalyn Duffin, and Katharine Park, have looked at the role of medical practitioners in canonization trials from the Middle Ages through the present, in which physicians' testimony helped to establish the non-natural and, thereby, presumably miraculous nature of a putative cure. (2) Others, including Lorraine Daston, Gianna Pomata, and Fernando Vidal, have argued that the authentication of miracles in canonization trials, as well as theologians' discussions of the miraculous, fed into and off of new methods of scientific inquiry in the early modem period. (3) And a recent symposium at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin was entitled "Miracles as Epistemic Things," consciously paralleling the authentication of miracles with Hans-Jorg Rheinberger's analysis of the modem scientific laboratory. (4)

Still, most historians of science who have forayed into the world of miracles have stopped at the moment of a saint's canonization, preferring, understandably, to focus on the juridical inquests at which the saintly body and miracles were authenticated. But what happens to discussions of miracles when one moves beyond the canonization process? Are miracles still "epistemic things," or, in Gianna Pomata's phrase, "objects of knowledge" rather than "objects of faith," (5) events whose supernatural character--if not immediately obvious to observers--can be proven through a careful examination of evidence? Is their authentication--which, in turn, establishes their role as evidence of sanctity--the most important aspect of the discourse about miracles in the late medieval and early modem period? To attempt to answer these questions, I will draw upon material from the canonization and subsequent cult of St. Vincent Ferrer, a wildly popular itinerant Dominican preacher who was born in Valencia in 1350, died in Brittany in 1419, and was canonized in 1455. (6)

Although the full dossier for Vincent's canonization trial no longer exists, enough of the records survive to show that his case followed the now customary juridical procedures for the authentication of miracles, including local fact-finding inquests in Brittany, Avignon, Naples, and Toulouse preceding the final pronouncement of Vincent's canonization in June 1455. (7) But a fuller look at the canonization records and at the developing cult of the new saint indicates that such papal approval marked only one of several ways by which miracles received publicly accepted "authentication" in the later Middle Ages and may, in fact, have been among the least important of these ways. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the example of Vincent Ferrer also suggests that, at least after the saint's canonization, the idea of juridically authenticated miracles became in fact irrelevant, not just among the great masses of the faithful who looked to the saint for intercession, but also among members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Rather, one sees in the vitae composed by clerical promoters of the cult of Vincent a shifting rhetoric of authenticity, as authors used tales of Vincent's "authentic" miracles to drive home their own polemical points.


By the time Vincent Ferrer embarked on his famous twenty-year preaching tour through Europe in 1398, scholastic theologians had long since worked out a clear definition of a miracle as an event that fell outside the normal pattern or capacity of nature.8 The canonization process, in part, aimed to allow the College of Cardinals to decide whether alleged instances of the candidate for sainthood's intercession were in fact miracles according to that definition. At canonization inquests from the thirteenth century on, witnesses who testified about miracles had to answer a list of questions about the circumstances of the event, other witnesses to the event, the words used to invoke the putative saint's intercession, the date, length, and severity of the illness (in the case of a cure), and possible natural explanations for the event in question. (9) The process was designed to guarantee that the proposed miracles under scrutiny had in fact happened--through a tight control of evidentiary issues-and were in fact miracles, that is, events worked by God and not by nature (or by evil spirits).

The three surviving inquests into Vincent Ferrer's sanctity give abundant evidence about miracles attributed to the holy Dominican, particularly the Brittany inquest, the largest and least scripted of the three. (10) As I have argued elsewhere, both the questions posed to the Brittany witnesses and their own spontaneous narratives indicate the participants' careful attention to present the Roman curia with authentic miracles of the proposed saint. Thus, the papal commissioners asked witnesses to name others who could corroborate their testimony, to specify that they had indeed invoked Vincent's intercession prior to any alleged miracles, and to list details of their illnesses and of any medical attempts to cure them. (11) Witnesses, in turn, structured their tales so as to emphasize the contrast between the allegedly miraculous events and the ordinary workings of nature, by placing the vow to the saint at the moment death seemed imminent, emphasizing the chronic nature of a disease halted by the saint's intercession, or stressing the failed efforts of medical practitioners to cure an infirmity healed by the saint. (12)

Thus, through the papal commissioners' diligent questioning and the witnesses' careful testimony, the inquests into Vincent Ferret's sanctity resulted in a body of testimony that closely adhered to canon lawyers' standards of evidence and to scholastic theologians' understanding of the miraculous--or so the promoters of the cause hoped. Whether the events narrated in the canonization inquests would in fact be deemed "authentic miracles" rested in the hands, first, of a group of three cardinals in Rome, whose job it was to scrutinize, organize, and pass preliminary judgment on the dossier presented to them. The final decision rested with the College of Cardinals and the pontiff himself. What deliberations took place in the case of Vincent Ferrer, however, and how the pope and College of Cardinals judged specific pieces of the evidence we can never know, since the documents are lost, likely destroyed in the Sack of Rome in 1527. All that remains are an eyewitness description of the ceremonies in 1455 in which Calixtus III enrolled Vincent Ferret in the catalogue of saints and the bull of canonization issued by Calixtus's successor, Plus II, in 1458. (13) Worse still, there was no enumeration of authenticated miracles in the bull of canonization; in fact, Pius specifically declined to name any particular miracles on account of what he called their great number. Instead, the pontiff ordered the canonization inquests to be deposited with the Dominican church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome, for public consultation. (14)

A thin shred of evidence may shed some light upon which miracles met most with the approval of the cardinals in Vincent's case, however. The Dominican Archbishop Antoninus of Florence--in the biography of Vincent embedded in his Chronicle, written shortly after Vincent's canonization--makes mention of what he calls a "letter of canonization" and draws from this "letter" a list of three post mortem miracles worked by the saint's intercession. (15) Most probably, Antoninus was referring to a brief that circulated within the Dominican order, written by some eyewitness to the canonization. In two previous cases of Dominican saints, similar missives had announced the happy news before the issuance of an official bull of canonization. (16) And we know from that subsequent canonization bull that the Cardinals' findings-including, presumably, a list of authenticated miracles--were read out in two public consistories at the time of Vincent's canonization. (17)

If this "letter of canonization" can be presumed to have reproduced the highlights of the public consistories, Vincent's three most salient miracles, according to the College of Cardinals, were all resuscitations from the dead. Two of these miracle tales can be found in the testimony from the Brittany canonization inquest, and, in adherence to the curia's judicial standards, multiple witnesses attested to each with abundant and precise details. But the third story does not appear in any of the surviving canonization inquests. It does, however, number among a vernacular list of ten of Vincent's miracles preserved in a late fifteenth-century Sicilian manuscript. The tales in this collection specify that their source was an inquest held in the Catalonian city of Lerida (Lleida) in 1451, that is, two years before the official opening of the canonization process. (18) It appears, then, that the College of Cardinals examined other evidence than simply that generated in the canonization inquests proper, namely, the Lerida miracles inquest. One reason for so doing might have been political: so that, in enumerating Vincent's miracles, the cardinals could nod to both the duchy of Brittany and the crown of Aragon, both of whose leaders provided the bulk of the financial support for his canonization.

What, then, was the purpose of authenticating miracles through the process of canonization? If the goal was to lay out before the faithful only miracles whose validity they could trust, why did the pope not publish Vincent's approved miracles, however lengthy that list may have come to be? (Pietro Ranzano, in the first vita of Vincent Ferrer, mentions the number 860.) (19) Or, if the pope would not enumerate all the authentic miracles, why not offer at least a small subset in the bull of canonization? And why, in the independently circulating letter of canonization, is a miracle listed that is not found in the official canonization inquests? Did the cardinals violate their own established procedure? Did the Aragonese pope Calixtus IH who canonized Vincent insist on the inclusion of the Spanish miracles? And why deposit the canonization inquests for public consultation? Providing access to the inquests implied that people could judge for themselves what was or was not an authentic miracle or, perhaps equally disturbingly, that they did not need to do so. From the very moment of canonization, then, Vincent Ferrer's example causes us to question the function of the judicially authenticated miracle in the later Middle Ages.


Indeed, another look back at the testimony generated at Vincent Ferrer's canonization inquests suggests that it was possible to speak of "authentic miracles" even before the College of Cardinals or pope had declared them such. There, we learn of several ways in which local clergy presented the public with what one witness called "authentic miracles in public form" long before the opening of the canonization inquests. (20) First, in the cathedral in Vannes, Brittany, that housed Vincent's tomb, clergy would ring the church bells at the news of a new miracle. For example, a local notable named Perrin Herve was brought to the holy preacher's tomb, raving, crazed, and showing what all recognized to be the signs of demonic possession. Placed on the tomb, with his head wrapped in Vincent's cape, Perrin quieted, slept, and had a vision in which Vincent told him he was cured. (21) When Perrin told wondering bystanders what had happened, the cathedral bells were rung in a sign of the miracle. (22)

Since cathedral clergy had to choose to sound the bells, the ringing of bells signified one level of authentication of the miracle. As one of Perrin's friends put it, "and [I] saw then that the clergy made the bells ring, and they said this was a miracle." (23) Like the numerous wax ex votos witnesses reported seeing at Vincent's tomb, the bells proclaimed the working of miracles. As with advertising today, such repetition becomes its own sort of proof. So, witnesses at the canonization inquests cited the presence of ex votos and the frequent ringing of bells as evidence that Vincent worked miracles, (24) as did the local organizers of the Brittany inquest, when they invited the papal commissioners to view the large number of ex votos at Vincent's tomb. (25)

A second way in which local clergy signaled their approval of a putative miracle was through carefully committing its details to writing. A number of Brittany witnesses, for example, noted that cathedral clergy kept a little book in which they wrote down Vincent's miracles. (26) A first volume, as it were, had been kept by the late Henricus le Medec; a messenger (Salomo Periou) had personally carried it to Pope Martin V (1417-1431) in hopes of persuading him to open canonization proceedings. (27) At the Brittany inquest, cathedral chorister Yvo Natal presented the papal commissioners with a copy of the most current book. (28) This act of having one's miracle story committed to writing by the cathedral clergy must be part of what a number of Brittany witnesses meant by the phrase "he had the miracle publicized" (miraculum fecit publicari), for one witness, having already made one pilgrimage to the tomb in fulfillment of her vow to the saint, made a separate, second trip to "have the miracle publicized." (29) Similarly, the peasant Guillotus Le Mareschal, recalling for the commissioners his own pilgrimage to Vincent's tomb, where he had been miraculously healed of a long-lasting fever, added that he "notified Dominus Yvo Natal, who wrote down the miracles in said cathedral." (30)

To be sure, in his own testimony before the commissioners, Yvo Natal, keeper of the miracle book for the four years leading up to the canonization inquest, did not claim that all the events contained therein were "authentic miracles." Rather, he more modestly suggested that the commissioners spend some time with the book and "extract from it those that appeared to [them] to be miracles." (31) Nonetheless, for many observers, the fact of having the miracle written do1wn (or publicized), just like the ringing of the bells, constituted a form of authentication. In fact, a number of witnesses testified that their miraculous cures had been suspended, as it were, by their own negligence or delay in publicizing the miracle. (32) The belief that the "publication" of the miracle by its inclusion in the cathedral's written records somehow authenticated it must have been reinforced by the reading out or reciting of Vincent Ferrer's many miracles in the Vannes cathedral on Sundays and other special occasions.33 Those who had traveled to Vincent's tomb, such as a Cistercian preacher described by one Toulousan witness, also were able to "recite" his many miracles.34 Thus a witness from Aragon could speak of pilgrims returning from Brittany with "many authentic miracles in public form." (35) At least two witnesses' depositions confirm that the book kept by Yvo Natal and his predecessors was the source of those recitations, an act for which witnesses also used the term "publication." (36) Observers might be excused, then, for believing that inclusion in the book from which miracles were read to the public guaranteed a miracle's authenticity. The collection also must have stood behind yet another sign of clerical authentication of Vincent Ferrer's miracles, namely a painting (tabula depicta) of his miracles at the tomb, which is described by one Brittany witness. (37)


If Vincent Ferrer's case shows us that there existed ways of signifying a miracle's authenticity before, and outside of, the juridical lens of canonization proceedings, the importance of the canonization process in authenticating miracles becomes even more questionable when one looks at the treatment of his miracles after Vincent's canonization. This observation is particularly apt when one considers the first official vim of the new saint, written by the Sicilian Dominican Pietro Ranzano in the year following Vincent's canonization. Perhaps taking his cue from Pope Calixtus III's declination to sort out (or at least name) any authenticated miracles in Vincent's case, Pietro Ranzano adopted what, from this distance, appears to be an extremely cavalier attitude to the miracles presented in the canonization inquests, picking and choosing to suit his own ends and without any regard to canon law standards of evidence. (38) Rather, Ranzano substitutes for judicial authentication a rhetoric of authenticity established by prefatory remarks that include a mention of the canonization inquests, an acknowledgment of his commission to write the vita, and a defense of his writing style, based, as he says, on St. Jerome's biography of Hilarion. Ranzano, like other humanist authors of saints' lives, looked to ancient models and aimed to stir his reader's feelings by the inclusion of vivid, direct speech in his narrations. He frequently invented conversations where none are found in his sources (including in his miracle tales). (39) This emotional immediacy trumped judicial authentication and helped Ranzano to make a polemical point about the new saint.

Commissioned by the Aragonese pope Calixtus III and the head of the Dominican Order to write Vincent's Life, (40) Ranzano must have been given some instructions about how to present the new saint--and how to address some of the potential blemishes on his record. Among the concerns Ranzano must have had in composing his biography were Vincent's activities during the years of the Great Schism, a division that endured for most of Vincent's adult career. The problem was that Vincent had long remained a partisan of the Avignon pope Benedict XIII, whose stubborn and recurring refusal to resign the papal throne made him a villain in the eyes of most European Christians. Although Vincent eventually broke with Benedict, his ties to the tenacious pontiff were perceived as enough of a blot in the years surrounding his canonization that no less ardent a supporter than fellow Dominican Antoninus of Florence felt compelled to offer a defense of Vincent's adherence to Avignon. (41)

Ranzano, in his vita, opted instead to present Vincent as one who had long been involved in the attempts to bring the crisis to a close. In describing Vincent's career, thus, Ranzano assigned the most prominent position in his narrative to Vincent's labors to end the Schism. (42) Through a judicious choice of details and a rather cavalier approach to chronology, Ranzano was able to minimize Vincent's association with Benedict XIII and present him as actively working to heal the divided church. But, most importantly here, Ranzano underscored this point in his catalogue of Vincent's miracles by relating first, and at great length, a spectacular tale in which the saint's prayers restored life to a baby whose own demented mother had chopped him into pieces, partially cooked him, and served the flesh to Vincent himself to eat. (43) It is a tale rich with parallels to Eucharistic miracles--as some later artists' portrayals demonstrate--and one that played upon the equation of the mystical body of Christ with the body of the church. (44) (See fig. 1 .)

Unfortunately, Ranzano's miracle tale neither met judicial standards of proof nor accurately reproduced the story told by witnesses at the canonization inquests. Although versions of the tale can be found in both the Brittany and the Naples inquests, it appears there as hearsay. The actual participants in this miracle are never named; their place of residence is unknown; and there are no eyewitnesses to the miraculous restoration of the chopped-up baby. (45) Even more strikingly, Ranzano has transformed the time of the miracle and the place where it occurred. No longer in some vague Breton locale, Ranzano's miracle takes place "in that part of France called Langue d'Oc," much closer to Avignon and the world of the Schism that lurks under this narration. And the miracle happens in the living saint's own presence, not at his tomb, as in the inquests. In short, it appears that Ranzano's choice of which miracle to highlight and his rendering of the tale were dictated not by a concern with juridical authenticity, but rather by a desire to make a polemical point.


In another lengthy narration, Ranzano similarly opts for didactic force over legal authentication. (46) The tale involves a Lombard youth described as "simple," who brutally beat an old, debilitated woman, who happened to have been mute from birth, believing her to be an apparition of the devil. Vincent's prayers and laying on of hands restored her to life--and gave her a voice. Ranzano details at length her making a full confession to a priest, receiving the Eucharist and extreme unction, and then falling back dead. The key miracle, thus, was the restoration of speech that enabled the woman properly to be reconciled to the Church. Ranzano's sacramental emphasis is made abundantly clear by other treatments of this miracle tale. One author mentions neither the woman's muteness nor her subsequent confession; for him the miracle was simply her resuscitation. (47) This tale, too, does not appear in the surviving canonization inquests. True, it does number among the ten Lerida miracles in the Sicilian collection and is found in Antoninus's later vita, but it is not among those miracles he cites from the "letter of canonization." (48) Still, a miracle that highlighted the importance of the sacraments in such dramatic fashion must have been irresistible to Pietro Ranzano.

In other fifteenth-century vitae of Vincent Ferrer, it is equally apparent that concerns other than juridical authenticity were guiding the selection of miracles. Antoninus of Florence, for example, used miracles to underscore his portrayal of Vincent as an exemplar of Dominican observance and preaching, characteristics summed up in his calling Vincent a "new apostle." (49) For Antoninus, references to the "letter of canonization" and to "proven and collected" miracles, as well as a frank acknowledgment that Vincent's allegiance to the Avignon pope was somewhat troublesome, formed part of his rhetoric of authenticity. (50) Such an honest and careful writer was, thus, to be trusted when he detailed the saint's miracles--in tales that reinforced Vincent's appearance as a new apostle. In the prologue to his vita, for example, Antoninus noted that Vincent's intercession had "procure[d] bread and wine for two thousand persons," raised the dead, cured the blind, and healed the sick--miracles all reminiscent of the gospel age. (51) Antoninus also emphasized that Vincent had possessed the apostolic gift of tongues. (52) And in his catalogue of Vincent's in vita miracles, Antoninus placed at the top of his list the saint's Christ-like multiplication of bread and wine, and not, as had Ranzano, the tale of the chopped-up baby. (53) Antoninus had to reach deep in the canonization inquests to find the miracle that is his headliner. (54) But by so doing, he subtly paralleled the time of the apostles with Vincent's own times.

In a brief vita composed in 1470 by Antoninus's secretary, Francesco Castiglione, one similarly sees a willingness to spin out miracle tales other than those examined or approved by the College of Cardinals. (55) Alison Frazier has suggested that Castiglione wrote his vita in the hope that Vincent's intercession could restore the fortunes of a family fallen on hard times. (56) This aim may explain Castiglione's emphasis on Vincent's miracles, whose narration takes up nearly six times the space devoted to the biography proper. True, Castiglione worked from the miracle-laden canonization inquests, a fact that he noted in a dedicatory letter prefacing the life, and he may have believed that his acknowledged debt to the inquests served as a guarantee of the authenticity of the miracles he drew from them. But the single longest miracle in his collection does not come from that source, nor even from Antoninus's biography or Ranzano's vita. Rather, Castiglione's informant was an aged priest, "honest and most serious," who had numbered among Vincent's followers. Castiglione's acceptance of his story, whose "novelty" (read: nearly incredible nature) he acknowledges is enough to give its teller pause, again points to the fact that questions other than that of judicial authentication guided the selection of miracles, despite his concern to present his source as extremely worthy of trust. (57)

The story indeed does stretch one's credulity. According to Castiglione, as Vincent was getting ready to preach one day, it happened that a large crowd had gathered nearby to witness the public burning of a pair of criminals: "a man and a woman caught in the most nefarious crime." (58) But Vincent asked that the execution be postponed and that the offending pair be placed under the platform from which he was to preach. For the next three hours, Vincent expounded on the pains of purgatory, with a long discourse on the crime committed by the couple imprisoned under the pulpit and the punishment merited by their sin. At the sermon's end, Vincent ordered the captives to be brought forth. Nothing but bones remained. "So greatly [was] their conscience stirred and [so strong was] their compunction for the wicked deed and crime" that the pair were dissolved, as if by flames. The criminals were saved not simply from the "public ignominy" of their prescribed punishment, but also, and more importantly, from "all penalty that in future life they were to suffer." (59) No tale could make more apparent the salvific force of remorse and repentance--and the power of Vincent's prayers.

Castiglione frames this narration with a pair of remarks that lay bare the different sort of reasoning at work in writing about the miracles of an already canonized saint. After acknowledging that he would not dare to tell such a story without "trustworthy witness," Castiglione notes that God can do things "impossible to men." And, he adds, with a nod to John 14:12, those who believe in Christ will be able to do all he did and greater still. (60) At the end of the tale of the combusted criminals, Castiglione appends another comparison to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who similarly had aroused such compunction in a young man's heart that he appeared to be licked by flames. (61) Vincent's abundant miracles were the crucial point for Castiglione, whose vita ends with the hope that "Blessed Vincent ... may be for us a perpetual intercessor [with God]." (62) The implication is that for a saint, anything is possible--and is fair game for the hagiographer's pen. (63)

A third vita from the late fifteenth century, composed by an unknown friar from the Dominican house of Chioggia (near Venice), again demonstrates the unimportance of curial authentication to the author's selection of miracles. (64) The Chioggia friar, who had read the vitae of Ranzano, Antoninus, and Castiglione, also drew widely on local and traveling informants. He was not over-concerned in his writing, however, to emphasize the authenticity of the tales he narrated. Rather, guided by an apparent desire to fan (or sustain) local devotion to Vincent Ferrer, the friar seems to have adopted a rhetorical strategy of miraculous one-upsmanship. For example, whereas Ranzano had told how Vincent's prayers had stabilized a rickety pontoon bridge, the Chioggia friar repeated that tale and then upped the ante with another more incredible story: this time, faced with a raging stream and no way to ford it, Vincent simply laid his cape on the water, making the sign of the cross. At once, the cloak became "like a table under their feet," and the preacher and his entourage were safely able to traverse. (65)

In another instance, the Chioggia friar related an equally stupendous tale about the celebration of Vincent's canonization at his burial place in Brittany. It was not enough that--as with many other saints--when Vincent's tomb was opened, the saint's long-dead body was found to be uncorrupted and sweet-smelling. Even more remarkably, during the Mass that was celebrated in the course of the ceremony, Vincent's dead corpse raised itself up and knelt in reverence from the time of the Elevation of the Host until the priest had taken communion. True, the author here did think to offer some proof of this incredible tale, which appears in no other source. A subdeacon who had chanted the Mass in question many years later stopped at the convent in Chioggia. There he related the story to the wondering brothers, swearing an oath that he had seen it all with his own eyes. (66)

A third example demonstrates, however, that the Chioggia friar's primary interest was in relating a good yarn about his hero. In this miracle tale (reminiscent of the world of medieval romance)--again, found in no other contemporary source--a man from somewhere in Spain became the guardian to his nephew upon the death of the lad's father, a man of considerable wealth. Anxious to take over his nephew's inheritance, the man secretly poisoned the lad. Some years later, he attended one of Vincent's sermons, during which the preacher repeatedly and abruptly turned toward the man and said, "At Palermo! At Palermo!" After the sermon, he sought out the holy preacher to ask the meaning of this phrase that, frankly, had terrified him. Vincent replied mysteriously that the man would there meet his punishment if he did not confess his sins at once. The man ignored Vincent's warning, but several days later found himself in a boat, which, buffeted by storms, came to land at a place that turned out to be Palermo. Seeking refreshment, the man bought a lamb's head at a butcher shop. To his horror, blood began pouring from the ears of the head, which then, to the man's even greater dismay, changed into the bleeding head of a youth: his nephew. Hauled before the local judge by an amazed crowd of witnesses, the man recalled Vincent's prophetic words, admitted the murder, and was promptly beheaded. (67) But this time, our friar offers absolutely no authenticating source for his fantastic material.

As artists in the late fifteenth century built upon the work of earlier hagiographers, we again find that questions of dramatic narrative trumped any concern for judicial authentication. Of six fifteenth-century altarpieces with miracle cycles, for example, four include a portrayal of the story, so beloved to Ranzano and so poorly documented, of the resuscitation of the chopped-up baby. (68) The same miracle also appears on a panel now in the Stibbert Museum in Florence and in a fresco in the Dominican church in Gubbio. (69) A German woodcut makes clear reference to the same miracle, as do a pair of illuminated initials in an incunable in Colmar. (70) The altarpiece executed by the school of Giovanni Bellini for the church of Sts. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice includes a scene of Francisco Castiglione's favored tale of the combusted criminals. Commissions for these works do not survive, and it is impossible to know what directions the artists were given about miracles, but only in two cases do the altarpiece panels closely stick to Pietro Ranzano's official vita, itself hardly a showcase of authenticated material. (71) In other cases, the choices of donors and artists were apparently guided by local, artistic, or dramatic considerations.


Authors of Lives of Vincent Ferrer in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, spurred in part by the Protestant attack on the cult of the saints and the new scrutiny given to saintly vitae after the Council of Trent, recounted Vincent's miracles (past and present) at length in their writings, all the while employing a new rhetoric of authenticity that involved copious citations of sources and careful attention to chronological accuracy. Simon Ditchfield has argued that modern critical historical scholarship has its roots in post-Tridentine writing about the saints. (72) And certainly many of Vincent's biographers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries provided a density of footnotes and source citations that would make a modern dissertation committee proud.

For example, the Valencian Justinian Antist's 1575 vernacular Life and History of the Apostolic Preacher Vincent Ferrer is chock full of learned-sounding Latin footnotes, and his lengthy treatment of Vincent's miracles is drawn largely from the canonization inquests, which Antist went to considerable pains to seek out and acquire, and which he cites by folio number. Furthermore, Antist makes careful note of the numbers and status of eyewitnesses to the miracle tales he relates. (73) Still, he does not pick and choose only the more credible among the miracles from the canonization inquests; rather, a source citation alone appears to be the only stamp of authenticity Antist and his readers (presumably) require. And even when he recounts the stories of some more recent miracles drawn from an author of, admittedly, "minimal diligence," Antist justifies his inclusion of the tales by the fact that they "had been examined by persons who could easily verify their troth." (74) (Whether those persons actually had verified their truth or not, Antist leaves unsaid.)

A similar attention to source citation serves as marker of authenticity in the 1600 Life of Vincent Ferrer penned by Valencian Dominican Francisco Diago. (75) Diago's concern to present Vincent as part of an unbroken, sacred history in the kingdom of Aragon led him to seek out new tales of miracles worked during Vincent's own childhood in Valencia. Although the tale of the young "son of Guillermo Ferrer" touching and licking a neighbor child's plague bubo found its authentication in Diago's citation of a memoir later penned by the cured boy's son, it also clearly fit within Diago's design of showing Vincent's constant intercessory presence in his native city. (76) Similarly, Diago noted a number of miracles that had occurred more recently in Valencia. In these instances, his careful providing of dates and the names of the beneficiaries of Vincent's intercession served a rhetoric of authenticity. (It did not hurt, either, that the recipients were high-ranking members of the community, just the sorts of persons whose testimony as eye-witnesses in courts of law or to experiments in natural philosophy would most count.) (77) For Francisco Diago, miracles--attested in written sources and by the names of their prominent beneficiaries--were evidence that served continually to link Vincent Ferrer to the city of Valencia, despite the fact that his body lay entombed in distant Brittany.

For Andres Ferrer de Valdecebro, writing in 1682 the life of the man he claimed as kinsman, Vincent Ferrer was above all a person for good Catholics to emulate, and he held out the promise of Vincent's intercession on behalf of the truly faithful. (78) Ferrer de Valdecebro's Life lacks the obsessive citation of sources seen in the two previous vitae by Antist and Diago; he also displays little of those authors' interest in detailing contemporary miracles of the saint. In fact, in a prefatory letter, Ferrer de Valdecebro explained that the Count of Oropesa, counselor of State and later first minister of Spain under King Charles II, had encouraged him to write a life without any miracles, since, as the count had said, "the life is to imitate, [whereas] the miracles are to admire; and from admiration no benefit is obtained." (79) Still, Ferrer de Valdecebro does mention one contemporary miracle in some detail, that is, the cure from infertility of the wife of the very same Count of Oropesa. Yet in telling of the countess's cure, Ferrer de Valdecebro manages to turn a miracle tale into a moral lesson. He presents the miracle as a "Holy and devout prescription, which Saint Vincent Ferrer left" for sterile women. The Countess of Oropesa's fertility after following this "prescription," he says, is a fact now known throughout Spain. On closer examination, the "prescription" turns out to be nothing other than a recipe for a good Catholic wife: living well, avoiding sin, paying the conjugal debt, and offering up prayers and the Rosary morning and evening. (80) Clearly, Ferrer de Valdecebro's bottom line was that Vincent's intercession was available only for good Catholics. That such a cure had come to the wife of a high-ranking man and was "known throughout Spain" served as ample authentication of the miracle, which, in turn, offered evidence of the value of good Catholic behavior. (81)

Ferrer de Valdecebro, like other post-canonization authors of Lives of Vincent Ferrer, did not seek to authenticate miracles by demonstrating their non-natural character. Rather, these authors presented the saint's miracles cloaked in a rhetoric of authenticity that had little to do with the careful weighing of evidence dictated by the canonization process. Thus, while writers after the saint's canonization in the fifteenth century had satisfied themselves with the occasional nod to "trustworthy witnesses," post-Tridentine authors tended toward an obsessive citation of written sources. The difference between this rhetoric of authenticity and the juridical authentication of the canonization process is made clear by the fact that authors after Vincent's canonization assumed that any miracle tale that appeared in the canonization inquests could legitimately be presented in a vita of the saint.


The example of Vincent Ferret demonstrates that the careful authentication of miracles so beloved by historians of science had in fact a rather limited and specific use in the later Middle Ages: to assist the pope and the College of Cardinals in determining whether or not the candidate for sainthood was in fact a saint by demonstrating the candidate's ability to intercede with God. In such an instance, it was as important to demonstrate that the event had happened at the invocation of the putative saint as it was to show its supernatural character. Only then could the now-authenticated miracle serve as evidence of the candidate's sanctity--and even then only as partial evidence. A late fifteenth-century Dominican friar pushing for the canonization of Albertus Magnus would state that miracles were in fact "unimportant evidence of sanctity," citing the example of John the Baptist, who had worked no miracles while alive or thereafter. (82) The procedure for authentication employed in the process of canonization marks only one particular function and meaning of the miraculous, one intended for a very special set of circumstances.

In truth, for Catholic theologians a miracle was never simply an event beyond the powers of nature, but it was also, and equally or more importantly, one whose effect was to strengthen the faith. (83) As Vincent Ferrer's contemporary Jean Gerson asserted, "If a miracle lacks any pious utility or necessity, it should be suspected or rejected by that fact alone." (84) Seventeenth-century theologians insisted that miracles be signs that certified pious doctrine. (85) In artistic representations of miracles, there are frequently witnesses, clearly moved by what they have seen. Hence, after Vincent had been enrolled in the catalogue of the saints, the rigorous rules of authentication that applied during the canonization process seem to have been suspended entirely. As Francesco Castiglione noted, Jesus had promised that, to those who believed, "the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do." (86) Such sentiments allowed authors after the saint's canonization to pick and choose whatever miracles they liked to suit their own didactic or polemical purposes. They did so by plugging into an ever shifting rhetoric of authenticity, whether that rhetoric involved inventing dramatic and emotional dialogue, honestly confronting a saint's potential flaws, nodding to trustworthy informers, inflating the power of the saint's intercession, or meticulously citing archival documents. But however they presented their material, authors after the saint's canonization always wrote about miracles more mindful of their "pious utility" than of their careful, juridical authentication.

For historians of science, this longue duree view of miracles within a single saint's cult suggests that our passion for seeing miracles as a locus for discussions of the boundaries of natural and supernatural and for viewing the authentication of miracles as a prototype of scientific witnessing is perhaps a bit over-enthusiastic (to borrow a good late seventeenth-century term). Many years ago, John Murdoch at Harvard remarked that historians of science had tended to carve up only pieces of late medieval thinkers. Sure, the fourteenth-century author Nicole Oresme had written impressively about mathematics and the incommensurability of the heavens. But, as Murdoch pointed out, these scholars all wrote a Sentence commentary, too; every one was also a theologian. I think that a similar point might be made concerning medieval and early modern discourse about the miraculous. The authentication of miracles for canonization (or even in answer to Protestant critics) was always only one part of a much larger conversation about miracles that included sermons, art, and saintly vitae designed to deliver a doctrinal message. Even when saints were increasingly held up by the papacy as examples rather than as supernatural helpers, contemporaries recognized the continuing power of a good miracle tale.

doi: 10.1017/S0009640711001211

(1) Andre Vanchez, La saintete en Occident aux derniers siecles du Moyen Age d'apres les proces de canonisation et les documents hagiographiques, Bibliotheqtue des Ecoles Francaises d'Athenes et de Rome, 241 (Rome: Ecole Francaise de Rome, 1981) [English translation: Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages, trans. Jean Birrell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)], esp. 562-63, 568. For example, the reviewing cardinals passed along to the full consistory only 35 of 330 miracles attributed to Clare of Montefalco and 34 of 187 miracles attributed to Charles of Blois. In addition to Vauchez's magisterial study, excellent treatments of the medieval process of canonization are to be found in Thomas Wetzstein, Heilige vor Gericht: Das Kanonisationsverfahren im europdischen Spatmittelalter, Forschungen zur kirchlichen Rechtsgeschichte and zum Kirchenrecht, 28 (Cologne: Bohlau Verlag, 2004); Thomas Wetzstein, "Proving the Supranatural. Miracles, Sanctity, and Law of Evidence in Medieval and Early Modem Canonization," (unpublished paper delivered at the conference "Miracles as Epistemic Things," Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, 2004); Aviad M. Klelnberg, "Proving Sanctity: Selection and Authentication of Saints in the Later Middle Ages," Viator 20 (1989): 183-205; Michael Goodich, Violence and Miracle in the Fourteenth Century: Private Grief and Public Salvation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995); Goodich, "The Multiple Miseries of Dulcia of St. Chartier (1266) and Cristina of Wellington (1294)," in Voices from the Bench: The Narratives of Lesser Folk in Medieval Trials, ed. Michael Goodich (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006); Christian Krotzl, "Prokuratoren, Notare und Dolmetscher. Zu Gestaltung und Ablauf der Zeugeneinvemahmen bei spatmittelaltlicher Kanonisationsprozessen," Hagiographica 5 (1998): 119-40; Margaret Toynbee, S. Louis of Toulouse and the Process of Canonisation in the Fourteenth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1929); Sail Katajala-Peltomaa, Gender, Miracles, and Daily Life: The Evidence of Fourteenth-Ceutnry Canonization Processes (Tumhout: Brepols, 2009); and Didier Lett, Un proces de canonisation au Moyen Age: Essai d'histoire sociale. Nicolas de Tolentino, 1325 (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2008). See also the essays in Gabor Klaniczay,, ed., Proces de canonisation au Moyen Age: aspects juridiques et religieux, Collection de l'Ecole Francaise de Rome 340 (Rome: Ecole Francaise de Rome, 2004). The role of medical practitioners in ruling out natural causes for proposed miracles is treated in Joseph Ziegler, "Practitioners and Saints: Medical Men in Canonization Processes in the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Centuries," Social History of Medicine 12, no. 2 (1999): 191-225. Sail Katajala-Peltomaa provides an overview of recent scholarship in "Recent Trends in the Study of Medieval Canonizations," History Compass 8/9 (2010): 1083-92.

(2) In addition to the article by Joseph Ziegler cited above, see David Gentilcore, "Contesting Illness in Early Modem Naples: Mirocalati, Physicians and the Congregation of Rites," Past and Present 148, no. l (1995): 117-48; Jacalyn Duffin, Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints, and Healing in the Modern World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); and Katharine Park, Secrets of Women: Gender, Generation, and the Origins of Human Dissection (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006).

(3) Fernando Vidal, "Miracles, Science, and Testimony in Post-Tridentine Saint-Making," Science in Context 20, no. 3 (2007): 481-508; Gianna Pomata, "Malpighi and the Holy Body: Medical Experts and Miraculous Evidence in Seventeenth-Century Italy," Renaissance Studies 21, no. 4 (2007): 568-86; Lorraine Daston, "Marvelous Facts and Miraculous Evidence in Early Modem Europe," Critical Inquiry 18, no. 1 (Autumn 1991): 93-124.

(4) The reference was to the distinction between opaque "epistemic things" and technical objects. See Hans-Jorg Rheinberger, Toward a History of Epistemic Things: Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1997). Says Rheinberger, "They are epistemic because it has not yet been determined whether they will become obsolete as targets of research, or whether they will become transformed into stable, technical objects that may define the boundary conditions of further epistemic objects. This latter category of objects is, in contrast to the former, transparent, contained, and not transcendent. And as a role, we can point at them." Rheinberger, "A Reply to David Bloor: 'Toward a Sociology of Epistemic Things,'" Perspectives on Science 13, no. 3 (2005): 406-7.

(5) Pomata, "Malpighi and the Holy Body," 569.

(6) The standard accounts of Vincent's life are found in Acta Sanctorum Full-Text Database (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 2000; text from Antwerp: Michael Cnobarus, 1675), April, 1: 472529, retrieved from url_ver=Z39.88-2004&res_dat=xri:acta-us&rft_dat=xri:acta:fl:all:Z300053862 (hereafter AASS); Pierre-Henri Fages, Histoire de Saint Vincent Ferrier, 2 vols. (Paris: Picard and Louvain: Uystpmyst, 1901); Pierre-Henri Fages, Proces de la canonisation de Saint Vincent Ferrier pour faire suite a l'histoire du meme saint (Paris: Picard, 1904); Pierre-Henri Fages, Notes et documents de l'histoire de Saint Vincent Ferrier (Paris: Picard, and Louvain: Uystpruyst, 1905); Matthieu Maxime Gorce, Saint Vincent Ferrier (1350-1419) (Paris: Plan-Nourrit, [ca. 1924]); P. Sigismund Brettle, San Vicente Ferret und sein literarischer Nachlass, Vorreformationsgeschichtliche Forschungen, 10 (Munster: Aschendorff, 1924); Jose M. de Garganta, O.P., and Vicente Forcada, O.P., eds., Biografia y escritos de San Vicente Ferrer (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Christianos, 1956); Sadoc M. Bertucci, "Vincenzo Ferrer, santo," in Bibliotheca sanctorum, 12 vols. (Rome: Istituto Giovanni XXIII, 1969-1980), 12:1 168-76; S. Spano, "Vincenzo Ferrer," in II grande libro dei santi: dizionario enciclopedico (Turin: San Paolo, 1998): 3:1936-39; Alvaro Huerga, "Vincent Ferrer," in Dictionnaire de spiritualite ascetique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, 17 vols. (Paris: Beauchesne, 1932-1995), 16: col. 813-22; P. Feige, "Ferrer, Vicent(e)," in Lexikon des Mittelalters, 10 vols. (Stuttgart: Metzler, [1977]-1999), 4: cols. 395-97, in Brepolis Medieval Encyclopedias Lexikon des Mittelalters Online; "Ferrer, 1) Vinzenz," in Lexikon fur Theologic und Kirche, 3rd ed., 11 vols. (Freiburg: Herder, 1993-2001), 3: col. 1245-46; Philippe Niederlender, "Vincent Ferrier," in Histoire des saints et de la saintete chretienne, 11 vols. (Paris: Hachette, 1986-1988), Tome VII: Une eglise eclatee 1275-1545, ed. Andre Vauchez, 247 56. See also Bibliotheea hagiographiea latina (Brussels: Society of Bollandists, 1898-1899), numbers 8656-69 (hereafter BHL).

(7) The original manuscript of the canonization inquests had disappeared from Rome as early as 1577, when a Valencian named Hieronimus Domenicus Valentinus tried to find it, and it was presumed to have been destroyed in the sack of Rome of 1527. In 1590 in Valencia, Vincent Justinian Antist, O.P., made a copy of a Palermo manuscript (itself imperfect) containing the text of the Brittany, Toulouse, and Naples inquests: Universidad de Valencia, Biblioteca, G.C. 1869, M. 690, "Proceso de la canonizacion de San Vicente Ferrer, 9 del junio 1590" (hereafter, Valencia, "Proceso"). This MS is the only surviving copy of the Toulouse and Naples inquests (a second copy of the MS, Valencia, OP "Catalinas," MS in quarto, incipit: "Liber sive transumptus processus Beatificationis et Canonizationis santi Vincentii Ferrarii, Ordinis B. Dominici, Valentie orti ..." was listed as lost in 1936: Fr. Adolfo Robles Sierra, O.E, "Manuscritos del archivio del Real Convento de Predicadores de Valencia," Escritos del Vedat 14 [1984], 401). The Brittany inquest also survives intact in the original fifteenth-century exemplar in Vannes: Vannes, Archives Departementales du Morbihan, MS 87 G 11 (hereafter ADM MS 87 G 11). There is no surviving trace of the Avignon inquest. Fages's imperfect and abridged edition of the canonization inquests (Fages, Proces) is based on these two manuscripts. We learn of Valentinus's unsuccessful attempt to locate the complete canonization records in Valencia, "Proceso," fol. 12r (Fages, Proces, 267-68).

(8) For example, Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, la 105, art. 7, ad 1,2; art. 8. See also Laura Ackerman Smoller, "Defining the Boundaries of the Natural in Fifteenth-Century Brittany: The Inqauest into the Miracles of Saint Vincent Ferrer, d. 1419," Viator 28 (1997): 333-59, esp. 338-42.

(9) Vauchez La saintete 58-59. In 1307 for example, Pope Celestine V instructed the panel investigating the sanctity of Bishop Thomas Cantelupe of Hereford (d. 1282) to ask witnesses for the circumstances of the miracle, how they knew about the alleged miracle, and, further, specifically whether the supposed miracle occurred above (supra) or against (contra) nature. That set of questions is translated in Michael Goodich, Violence and Miracle, 159n19, from AASS, October 2, 49:589-90. The cardinals not infrequently rejected miracles that did not meet their standards of evidence or causality: Vauchez, La saintete, 566 (miracle rejected for lack of eyewitnesses, in case of Peter of Morrone), 574 (miracle rejected for contradictory testimony, in case of Thomas of Cantilupe), and 567 (miracle rejected because of another natural explanation of the events, in case of Peter of Morrone).

(10) On this latter point, see Smoller, "Defining the Boundaries of the Natural," 336-38; on the predominance of miracles in the Brittany inquest (as opposed to the other surviving inquests), see Laura Ackerman Smoller, "Northern and Southern Sanctity in the Canonization of Vincent Ferrer: The Effects of Procedural Differences on the Image of the Saint," in Proces de canonisation, ed. Klaniczay, 289-308.

(11) Smoller, "Defining the Boundaries of the Natural," 34246.

(12) Ibid., 346-53.

(13) The eyewitness account comes in a letter written by Pietro Ranzano, author of the first vita of Vincent Ferrer, which he sent to fellow Dominican Giovanni da Pistoia, along with a brief life of the new saint excerpted from Book 20 of Ranzano's Annals. The letter, dated August 1, 1463, appears in Rome, Biblioteca Casanatense, MS 112, fol. 51r-52r. Descriptions of the canonization appear at fol. 63r-68r. A partial edition is provided in F. A. Termini, "Riconstruzione cronologica della biografia di Pietro Ransano," Archivio storico siciliano, n.s., 41 (1916): 96-97. The bull of canonization (Pius II's Rationi congruent, October 1, 1458) appears in Bullarum diplomatum et privilegiorum sanctorum romanorum pontificum taurinensis editio, 25 vols., ed. Francisco Gaude (Turin: Seb. Franco et Henrico Dalmazzo, 1857-1872), 5:144-49.

(14) Rationi congruent, 149: "15. Miracula vero quae Deus per eumdem sanctum fecerat, propter eorum multitudinem, ne modum literarum, si. ut praefertus, confectae fuissent, egrederentur, duxit silentio praetereunda. Mandans processus omnes super illis habitos, in ecclesia domus S. Mariae super Minervam de Urbe dicti Ordinis, ad perpetuam rei memoriam custodiri, et illorum copiam volentibus exhiberi, ac etiam in officio ipsius sancti viri, quoad fieri posset, latius declarari."

(15) Antoninus Florentinus, Chronicon seu opus historiarum [BHL number 8663] (Numberg: Koberger, 1484) [German Books before 1601, Roll 326, exemplar from Upsala University Library], fol. CCIX verso: "Que predicta [miracula] sunt ex epistola canonizationis eius extracta."

(16) That Antoninus's epistola must represent a separately circulating letter (and not the bull of canonization) of the type that Otfried Krafft calls Kettenbriefe or "chain letters," and such as alerted Dominican houses to the canonizations of Dominic, Peter Martyr, and Thomas Aquinas, was suggested to me by Otfried Krafft, in private correspondence of September 10, 2007. See also Otfried Krafft, Papsturkunde und Heiligsprechung: Die papstlichen Kanonisationen vom Mittelalter bis zur Reformation: Ein Handbuch, Archiv fur Diplomatik, Schriftgeschichte, Siegel- und Wappenkunde, 9 (Cologne: Bohlau Verlag, 2005), 384, 760 (965-81 deal with Vincent's canonization); Krafft, "Ein Brief des Mailander Dominikanerpriors Lambert von S. Eustorgio zu Kanonisation, Elevation und Kultanfangen des Petrus Martyr (1253)," Sonderdruck aus Quellen und Forschungen aus Italienisehen Archiven und Bibliotheken 83 (2003): 403-25. One later hagiographer makes reference to what may be another such letter regarding Vincent's canonization. A friar from the Dominican convent in Chioggia some time after 1467 writes, "Sane venerationis illius inter sanctos literis publicatis ad ampliorem sue sanctitatis comendationem circa ipsum de hoe stupendum auditu divinam miserationem peregisse certa atestatione conprimus .... ": Walberberg (Germany), Bibliothek St. Albert, MS 27, ch. 40, fol. 49v (my emphasis). (Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, film no. 35,238; BHL number 8665: Vita Vincentii Ferrerii auctore monacho Clugiensi.) Hereafter, Walberberg, BSA, MS 27.

(17) Rationi congruent, 148: "et deinde, ex more, dicta ipsorum [i.e., S.R.E. cardinalium] testium feeit in duobus consistoriis generalibus publice recitari."

(18) Edited (and discussed) in Mario Pagano, "I 'Miracoli' inediti di S. Vincenzo Ferrer in volgare siciliano," Siculorum gymnasium 53 (2000): 345-90; the manuscript in which this miracle collection appears is also discussed in Pagano, "Un inedito volgarizzamento siciliano dalla Legenda Aurea: La Fita di S. Cristina,'" Siculorum gymnasium 52 (1999): 750-52. It is possible that these Lerida miracles were additionally reported at the now lost inquest held in Avignon, but that seems unlikely. First of all, witnesses from the crown of Aragon largely appear in the Naples inquest (Naples being at the time under Aragon's rule), and, secondly, if witnesses were to travel from Lerida to testify, it would have been much closer to journey to Toulouse than to Avignon. It is more likely that the inquest was forwarded to the papal curia as part of a petition to open the process, just as a collection of miracles from Brittany was (see n. 27 below).

(19) AASS, April, 1:496 ("miracula illa speciosissima, quibus claruit in vita, & quae apud maximum romanae ecclesiae Pontificem, qui eum ceteris Sanctis connumeravit, fuerunt clarissirnis testimoniis approbata. Verum cum ipsorum numerus fuerit supra octingenta et sexaginta....").

(20) Valencia, "Proceso," Naples witness number 16, fol. 257v, saying that three Catalonian monks had returned from a pilgrimage to Vincent's tomb with "many authentic miracles in public form." ("Dixit etiam testis ipse quod quidam magister bartholomeus scutifer monachus monasterii populeti accessit eum duobus aliis monaehiis ad visitandum corpus dieti frutris Vincentii, et in reversione sua adduxit multa miracula auctentica in publica forma, que omnipotens Deus feeerat precibus et meritis dicti fratris Vincentii.'" My emphasis.)

(21) On this miracle and the testimony about it, see Laura Ackerman Smoller, "A Case of Demonic Possession in Fifteenth-Century Brittany: Perrin Herve and the Nascent Cult of Vincent Ferrer," in Voices from the Bench, ed. Goodich, 149-76.

(22) ADM MS 87 G 11, witness number 8 (Petrus Floc'h): "etfueruntpulsate campane et hocfuit reputatum ab omnibus pro miraculo."

(23) Ibid., witness number 9 (Simon Maydo): "et vidit tunc quod viri eeclesiastici de eadem ecclesia fecerunt pulsare campanas et dieebant hoc esse miraculum.'"

(24) For example, Valencia, "Proceso," fol. 192v, witness 9 (Fr. Joannes Massa, O.P); fol. 227r, witness 27 bis (Galliardus de Ruppe, a Carmelite friar), and fol. 196r, witness 11 (Magister Alricus de Ruppe), all from the Toulouse inquest, who offered the presence of ex votos in Brittany as proof that God works many miracles at Vincent's tomb.

(25) Part of the opening ceremonies in the canonization inquest (the cathedral visit took place on November 20, 1453), as described a letter from the sub-commissioners who ran the inquest, in ADM MS 87 G 11, 16-17, and printed in Fages, Notes et documents, 397-98: "necnon ymaginines cereas, cruces, feretra mortuorum ut asserebat [Johannes Maucazie, prior of the Carmelite house of Bondon, who was speaking to the commissioners on behalf of the bishop, church, and citizens of Vannes], resuscitatorum sudaria, compedes ferreos a carceribus et captivitatibus liberatorum ibidem in memoriam miraculorum dicti Magistri Vincentii sine numero ut subiungebat existentes cernere et de super testimonium dare curaremus."

(26) ADM MS 87 G 11, witnesses numbers 1 (Yvo Gluidic), 6 (Oliverius le Bourdiec), 28 (Johannes Jegoti), and 89 (Guillotus le Mareschal).

(27) Ibid., witness number 6 (Oliverius le Bourdiee).

(28) Ibid., witness number 239.

(29) Ibid., witness 69 (Johanna, wife of Johannis Aufray): "Sed miraculum non publicavit ut promiserat propter pudorem. Ex post infra octo dies vel sic infirmitas revenit sibi.... et rememorans quod non publicasset miraculum ut promiserat ... venit ad ecclesiam.... et fecit publicari miraculum"; for similar statements, see also witness numbers 75 (Johannes Rochelard), 36 (Johannes Boayden), 22 (Yvo, abbot of B. Marie de Lanvaulx), 28 (Johannes Jegoti), and 38 (Johanna, wife of Johannes Baut).

(30) Ibid., witness 89: "asserit quod ipse hoc notifficavit domino Yvoni Natalis qui miracula dicti M. V. in dicta ecclesia conscribebat."

(31) Ibid., witness 239: "deponit quod ipse scripsit a quatuor annis in dicta ecclesia venetensi in uno libro quem nobis apportavit et nobiscum dimisit miracula que concurrentes ad dictum sepulcrum publicarunt .... Sed supplicavit nobis quod dictum librum diligenter visitaremus et ab eo extraheremus illa que nobis miracula viderentur."

(32) For example, the story told by Johanna, wife of Johannes Aufray, of her miraculous deliverance from blindness (ibid., witness 69). After a bout of "apoplexy" left her sightless, Johanna commended herself to Vincent Ferrer, with the result that her vision returned within three days of her vow. But, she continues, "for modesty's sake" she did not publicize the miracle, and within eight days she was ill and blind once more. At this point, Johanna consulted a woman physician (medica), but to no avail. Then, she adds, a neighbor asked her if she hadn't commended herself to any saint, the implication being that some irregularity in her behavior toward such a patron could result in a return of her disease. Recalling her failure to publicize her miracle, Johanna hastened to the Vannes cathedral, where she confessed, prayed, invoked Vincent's help a second time, and--now healed for good--made public the miracle. (See n. 29, above.)

(33) For example, ibid., witnesses numbers 1 (Yvo Gluidic), 5 (Alanus Philippot), 28 (Johannes Jegoti), and 38 (Johanna, wife of Johannis Baut).

(34) Valencia, "Proceso," fol. 186r, Toulouse witness number 6, Ft. Hugo Nigri, O.P.: "recitavit multa magna miracula que dicebat facta fuisse per dictum Magistrum Vincentium de cuius corporis visitationem se venire dicebat."

(35) See n. 20, above.

(36) ADM MS 87 G 11, witness number 1 (Yvo Gluidic): "Etpluries et quasiper singulos dies dominicos audivit quamplura et diversa miracula in dicta ecclesia publicari de quibus in singulari propter eorum numerositatem non recolit. Sed se reffert ad quemdem librum in dicta ecclesia existentem in quo predicta miracula describuntur.'; and ibid., witness number 28 (Johannes Jegoti): "Dicit tamen quod fuit presens in recitatione trium vel quatuor miraculorum per unum ordinis predicatorum confessorem certarum monialium de partibus Carcaxonem que scripta sunt in libro quem scripsit quidem Yvo Natalis presbiter super eisdem miraculis in dicta ecclesia Venetensi."

(37) Ibid., witness number 263 (Guillcrmus Rolandi): "reducens ad memoriam quoddam miraculum de quo fit mencio in quadam tabula depicta existentes supra sepulcrum dicti Magister V., videlicet quod dens resuscitavit quemdam infantulum quem eius mater occiderat ad preces dicti Magister V" (my emphasis).

(38) Ranzano's Vita Vincentii (=BHL numbers 8657/8658) can be found in AASS, April, 1:481-510. I have also examined the following manuscripts of the vita: Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Chigi F. IV. 91, fol. 1-23v, and Toulouse, Bibliotheque municipale, MS 486, which is presumed to be Ranzano's autograph and bears the marks of a working draft.

(39) On humanists writing saints' lives, see Alison Knowles Frazier, Possible Lives. Authors and Saints in Renaissance Italy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); David J. Collins, Reforming Saints: Saints' Lives and Their Authors in Germany, 1470-1530 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

(40) The vita was written at the request of the Aragonese Pope Calixtus III and the Dominican Master General Martial Auribelli, as Ranzano, a fixture at the Naples court of Aragon, makes clear in the prologue to the vita (AASS, April, 1:483, addressing himself to Martial Auribelli: "volens nostri Vincentii gesta mandare memoriae posteritatis, mihi jussisti, ut ea, quae de ejus mirabilibus factis apud Maximum Pontificem universamque Romanam Ecclesiam claris veridicisque testimoniis comprobata sunt, deberem ipse conscribere") and in the letter to Giovanni da Pistoia, cited in note 13, above (Rome, Biblioteca Casanatense, MS 112, fol. 54r): "Ea delegi ego ex tam multis ills quae accurate perscripsi in opere illo quatuor libris distincto quod hoc anno & Martialis auribelli hortatu & Calisti pontificis iussu de illius vita composui."

(41) In his Chronicle, written some time between Vincent's canonization in 1455 and Antoninus's death in 1459, Antoninus notes that "even though this Saint Vincent spent nearly his entire career under the obedience of Benedict XIII ..., and the Italians and many other nations judged him [Benedict], with his followers, to be an apostate and schismatic ... in no way does this overshadow the saint's merits or diminish his sanctity." Antoninus, Chronicon, fol. CCVIII verso: "Advertendum autem diligenter quod sanctus iste vincentius etsi cursum suum pene consumaverat sub obedientia Benedicti xiii. Avinioni cure sua curia residens et illum ytalici cum pluribus aliis nationibus apostaticum et scismaticum arbitrarentur cum sequacibus suis ... in nullo hoc habet sancti merita obumbrare vel sanctitatem minuere.... Siquidem utraque pars habuit peritissimos viros in omni facultate et sanctissimos viros.... Unde qui erraverunt in eo satis excusavit eos apud deum ignorantia facti et quasi invincibilis."

(42) That is, Book II, chapter 1 (the first book details Vincent's childhood, youth, and education; the second book treats his adult career; the third his prophecies and miracles; and the fourth his death and posthumous miracles).

(43) Ranzano, Vita Vincentii, AASS, April, 1:502-3.

(44) Most notably, in a panel attributed to the school of Domenico Ghirlandaio, Florence, Stibbert Museum, no. 834, in which the partially cooked baby rests on what looks like an altar set for the Mass and the saint appears vested as a celebrant. I develop this theme at much greater length in the book I am writing on the canonization and cult of Vincent Ferrer.

(45) Mentions of the tale can be found in: ADM MS 87 G 11, witness number 73 (Oliva de Coatsal); ibid., witness number 263 (Guillermus Rolandi); Valencia, "Proceso," fol. 257v-258r (unnamed Naples witness number 16), and fol. 260r-260v (unnamed Naples witness number 18). Some of this testimony has been translated in Laura Smoller, trans., "The Canonization of Vincent Ferrer," in Medieval Hagiography: An Anthology, ed. Thomas Head, Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, vol. 1942 (New York: Garland, 2000), 794-95, 803n15.

(46) Ranzano, Vita Vincentii, in AASS, April, 1:503.

(47) Walberberg, BSA, MS 27, ch. 33, fol. 40v-41v.

(48) For Lerida, Pagano, "I 'Miracoli' inediti," 362-65 (miracle number 7); Antoninus, Chronicon, fol. CCIX verso.

(49) For example, Antoninus, Chronicon, fol. CCVIII recto, where Antoninus remarks on the "apostolica gratia" by which Vincent, preaching in his native Catalan tongue, was understood by audiences everywhere, and fol. CCIX recto, where princes hang on advice from Vincent "ut apostolum novellum."

(50) Ibid., fol. CCIX verso: "Que predicta [miracula] sunt ex epistola canonizationis eius extracta. Insuper et quedam alia testificata et recollecta repperi."

(51) Ibid., fol. CCVII verso. Bread and wine: "subvemt ... quo ad corpus procurando panem et vinum duobus milibus hominum sequentibus eum"; miracles of gospel age: "fecit miracula in resuscitando mortuos plurimos, illuminando cecos centum, sanando diversis languoribus mille."

(52) For example, Antoninus, Chronicon, fol. CCVIII recto: "Hoe autem stupendum erat et apostolica gratia quod predicans in ydiomate vulgari cathalonico: intelligebatur etiam ab aliis nationibus illud ignorantibus."

(53) The miracle of the bread and the wine appears at Chronicon, fol. CCIX verso; the chopped-up baby story is at fol. CCX recto. Antoninus, in fact, with slightly more respect than Ranzano for his sources, places the miracle of the chopped-up baby correctly among Vincent's post mortem miracles, twelfth in a list of fourteen taken from sources other than the "letter of canonization." He also is careful to describe these miracles as "testificata" (proven or affirmed): ibid., fol. CCIX verso.

(54) Miraculous multiplications of bread and wine are recounted by Dominuus Petrus Molinis, Toulouse witness number 7 (Valencia, Proceso, fol. 187v-188v) and Naples witness number 20, Antonius Roca (ibid., fol. 262v). Ranzano also will relate this story in his Vita Vincentii, AASS, April, 1:504, but there is nothing in Antoninus's biography to indicate that he has read Ranzano's work.

(55) Castiglione's brief life (Vita beati Vincentii abbreviata=BHL number 8664) was printed in Vincent Ferrer, Sermones de tempore et de sanctis (Venice: Jacobus Pentius de Leuco, for Lazarus de Soardis, 1496), at ff. alv-a5r. (I have consulted the exemplar found in Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.) A modern edition from a manuscript in Florence (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Conventi Soppressi, MS J-VII-30, ff. 33-45v) can be found in Curt Wittlin, "Sobre les Vides de sant Vicent Ferrer compilades per Ranzano, Antonino i Miquel Peres: ampliacio literaria d'extrets escollits en el Chronicon d'Antonino de Florencia," Anuari de l'Agrupacio Borrianenca de Cultura 5 (1994): 16-27. Castiglione's list of miracles also appears in AASS, April, 1:510-11. On Castiglione, see Francesco Bausi, "Francesco da Castiglione fra umanesimo e teologia," Interpres 11 (1991): 112-81. As far as the date of the Life, the assertion of Walker [James Bernard Walker, O.P., The "Chronicles" of Saint Antoninus: A Study in Historiography (Washington: Catholic University of America, 1933), 94] that Antoninus drew upon Castiglione's biography is not correct. Alison Frazier follows this suggestion as a basis to pose 1459, the year of Antoninus's death, as a terminus ante quem for Castiglione's vita. [Frazier, Possible Lives, 393.] But careful comparison of the texts shows that Castiglione drew on Antoninus, and not vice versa. I see, therefore, no reason to doubt a 1470 date for Castiglione's vita.

(56) Frazier, Possible Lives, 38-39.

(57) Castiglione, in Vincent Ferrer, Sermones de tempore et de sanctis, fol. a4v: "Id unum [miraculum?] est propter quod huius viri [Castiglione's informant] mentionem feci: quod pre magnitudine rei vix proferre audeo. Quod nisi hominem testem locupletem hunc de quo loquor presbiterum virum probum atque gravissimum non ausim profecto hoc loqui tanta est ipsius portenti novitas et miraculi excellentia" (my emphasis).

(58) Ibid.: "non longe ab eo loco ubi vir sanctus et frequentissimus populus aderat duo scelesti viri vir mulierque in nephandissimo scelere deprehensi ad supplicium traherentur quo igni cremati tanti piaculi penas luerent.'"

(59) Ibid., fol. a4v-a5r (quotations from a5r): "Tantum enim conscientia reatus et compunctio admissi sceleris illos corrosit ut cum accessissent viri qui illos ad supplicium educerent nil preter ossa ipsa nuda consumptis carnibus et cute reperta sint ... quin vir dei tantum spiritu et oratione potuerit ut illi non modo ab instanti supplicio et ignominia publica verum etiam ab omni pena quam in futura vita perpessuri erant sola compunctione cordis et brevi conscientie adustione liberati ad eternam requiem felicem quod patriam commigrarint."

(60) Ibid., fol. a4v: "Quod nisi hominem testem locupletem hunc de quo loquor presbiterum virum probum atque gravissimum non ausim profecto hoc loqui tanta est ipsius portenti novitas et miraculi excellentia. Sed hoc impossibile est hominibus possibile apud deum nec profecto falsum est verbum domini quod de credentibus in se dixit: Hec que ego facio et ipsi facient et maiora horum facient." The example of Peter confirms this remark, for Castiglione: Jesus raised three dead persons; Peter, twelve or more.

(61) Ibid., foe a5r.

(62) Ibid.: "... beatus Vincentius vir sanetissimus perpetuo celebs magister et predicator veritatis sit pro nobis perpetuus intercessor."

(63) He includes, also, after the story of the combusted criminals, the tale of the resuscitation of a four-year-old boy, whose birth to a long-barren mother had resulted from an initial vow to Vincent Ferrer. According to Castiglione, this miracle had happened "in our own times" in Bologna (fol. a5r). The story is very similar, however, to a miracle tale that appears in the Sicily/Lerida collection (the only post mortem miracle there), where it is set in "Tholetu" in Spain. (Pagano, "I 'Miracoli' inediti," 36-70, miracle number 10). Antoninus also mentions this miracle as one of the three post mortem miracles coming from the "letter of canonization" (Chronicon, fol. CCIX verso): "Puer quidam quem mater facto voto ad beatum virum ex marito conceperat cum mortuus esset et per multas horas defunctus iacuisset deferentibus hominibus corpus eius ad sepeliendum mater ad sepulchrum sancti cucurrit cum lachrymis multis exorans sanctum vincentium ut sicut precibus suis obtinuerat ut ipsum conciperet et mundo pareret ita ipsum ad vitam huius seculi revocaret. Ipsa igitur matre super corpus filii sui defuncti miserabiliter lachrymante et vociferante revixit puer integram recuperans sanitatem qui ex infirmitate mortem incurrerat."

(64) Walberberg, BSA, MS 27, fol. 1-55.

(65) Ibid., chapter 31, fol. 38r: "cappam super aquas extendit et facto signo crucis cum satio asendens ita sub pedibus subs quasi tabula substetit quod secure in christi nomine gurgitem ilium pertransivit."

(66) Ibid., chapter 40, fol. 50v: "Hec que nunc retulimus fratribus ipse narravit eadem propriis occulis se aspexisse iure iurando sacrarum manuum firmiter aseverando contestatis."

(67) Ibid., chapter 25, fol. 29v 31r.

(68) The six are as follows: (1) Castelvetrano, S. Giovanni Battista, anonymous, Vincent Ferrer altarpiece (formerly at S. Domenico, according to Pagano, "I 'Miracoli,'" 346-47, n. 5); reproduction, George Kaftal, Iconography of the Saints in Central and South Italian Schools of Painting (Florence: Sansoni, 1965), figures 1315, 1318, 1320, 1321, 1324, 1326, 1327, 1328, 1329, 1332, 1334, 1335; (2) Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Colantonio, Vincent Ferrer altarpiece (formerly at S. Pietro Martire); reproduction, Kaftal, Saints in Central and South Italian Schools, figures 1316, 1317, 1319, 1322, 1325, 1330, 1331, 1333, 1336, 1337; Caterina Limentani Virdis, Polittici (San Giovanni Lupatoto, Italy: Arsenale, 2001), 349-52; (3) London, National Gallery and Vatican, Pinacoteca, Francesco del Cossa and Ercole de' Roberti, Griffoni altarpiece (formerly at San Petronio, Bologna); reproduction, George Kaftal and Fabio Bisogni, Iconography of the Saints in the Painting of North East Italy (Florence: Sansoni, 1978), figures 1384, 1390, 1392, 1393, 1396; (4) Venice, SS. Giovanni e Paolo, school of Giovanni Bellini, polyptych and predella panels; reproduction, Kaftal, Saints in North East Italy, figures 1389, 1394, 1395, 1397, 1398; (5) Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, and Oxford, Ashmolean, Bartolomeo degli Erri, polyptych (formerly at S. Domenico, Modena); reproduction, Kaftal, Saints in North East Italy, figures 1375, 1376, 1377, 1378, 1380, 1381, 1382, 1383, 1385, 1386, 1387, 1388, 1390; Daniele Benati, La bottega degli Erri e la pittura del Rinascimento a Modena (Modena: Artioli Editore, 1988), 143; and (6) Florence, Accademia, Giovanni Francesco da Rimini, altarpiece and predella panels (formerly at San Domenico del Maglio, Florence); reproduction, Kaftal, Saints in North East Italy, figure 1391. Only the fourth and sixth cycles lack a depiction of the chopped-up baby story. The cycle from Castelvetrano in Sicily represents Vincent's miraculous multiplication of bread and wine, while stained-glass windows in Saint-Lo show the miraculous healing of a local boy: Castelvetrano, S. Giovanni Battista, anonymous, Vincent Ferrer altarpiece; reproduction, Kaftal, Saints in Central and South Italian Schools, figure 1327; and Saint-Lo, cathedral, Chapel of St. Thomas, stained glass; reproduction, B. Jacqueline, "Trois scenes de la vie de saint Vincent Ferrier dans un vitrail de Notre-Dame de Saint-Lo (XVe siecle)," Archivium fratrum praedicatorum 49 (1979): 133-44. The altarpiece painted for the Dominican church in Modena depicts a dramatic miracle narrated by Ranzano and also found in the Sicily/Lerida collection, in which three devils in the form of wild horses threaten to disrupt one of Vincent's sermons: Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Bartolomeo degli Erri, polyptych (formerly at S. Domenico, Modena); reproduction, Kaftal, Saints in North East Italy, figure 1388. Other favored scenes include healings of the sick, exorcisms, and the vision of Christ that miraculously cured Vincent himself.

(69) Florence, Stibbert Museum, no. 834, School of Domenico Ghirlandaio, panel; reproduction, George Kaftal, Iconography of the Saints in Tuscan Painting (Florence: Sansoni, 1952), figure 1149; Gubbio, S. Domenico, school of O. Nelli, fresco; reproduction, Kaftal, Saints in Central and South Italian Schools, figure 1323.

(70) Woodcut: Sanctus Vincencius doctor ordinis predicatorum (Schreiber 1729; formerly in Leipzig Universitatsbibliothek, missing since World War II); reproduction, Werner Cohn, Holzund Metallschnitte aus offentlichen Sammlungen und Bibliotheken in Hannover, Koblenz, Koln, Leipzig, und Luneberg (Strassburg: J. H. Ed. Heitz, 1835)=volume 86 of Paul Heitz, Einblattdrucke des funfzehnten Jahrhunderts, number 16. Illuminated initials: Colmar, Bibliotheque municipale, Vincent Ferrer, Sermonis de tempore et de sanctis (Cologne: Quentell, 1487) (Hain 7002, GW 9836), cote IV/8798, Pars III (initial D) and cote G/1614, t. I (initial B); reproductions, Christian Heck, "Saint Vincent Ferrier dans des miniatures et un manuscript inedits du XVe siecle," Annuaire de la Societe d'Histoire et d'Archeologie de Colmar 27 (1978): 63-68, figures 1 and 5.

(71) That is, the cycle by Colantonio from Naples, a place with strong ties to Pietro Ranzano, and the cycle by Bartolomeo degli Erri from Modena (now in Vienna and the Ashmolean).

(72) Simon Ditchfield, "Martyrs on the Move: Relics as Vindicators of Local Diversity in the Tridentine Church," in Martyrs and Martyrologies: Papers Read at the 1992 Summer Meeting and the 1993 Winter Meeting of the Ecclesiastical History Society, Studies in Church History 30 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 284, 292-93; see also his Liturgy, Sanctity and History in Tridentine Italy: Pietro Maria Campi and the Preservation of the Particular (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

(73) V. Justiniano Antist, La vida e historia del apostolico predicador Sant Vicente Ferrer, Valenciano, de la Orden de Santo Domingo (Valencia: Pedro de Huete, 1575), in Biografia y escritos de San Vicente Ferrer, ed. Garganta, and Forcada, 87-334. Examples of Antist's citing his manuscript of the canonization inquests and noting the social status of the witnesses to a miracle: the resuscitation of the Breton archer Johannes Guerre, see Antist, Vida de San Vicente Ferrer, part 2, chapter 9, 275-76; the resuscitation of a Breton abbot's nephew, ibid., chapter 9, 277-78.

(74) Ibid., part 2, ch. 37, 322-23: "Aunque en todo este libro he curado muy poco de allegar una breve historia que anda impresa de la vida de este Santo por la poco diligencia de su autor en averiguar cosas antiguas pero en unos milagros que trae hechos aqui en Valencia en tiempos de nuestros padres y abuelos, le do), mucho credito porque van bien referidos y antes que se imprimiesen fueron examinados por personas que pudieron facilmente comprobar su verdad" (my emphasis).

(75) Francisco Diago, Historia de la vida, milagros, muerte y discipulos del bienaventurado Predicador Apostolico valenciano S. Vicente Ferrer (Barcelona: Gabriel Graells y Giraldo Dotil, 1600; facsimile: Valencia: Paris-Valencia S.L., 2001).

(76) Diago, Historia, book 1, chapter 2, 23-25, citing a family memoir translated from Limousin into Castilian: "En el ano (dize la memoria traduzida de lemosin en castellano) de 1350 y nueve Miguel Garrigues especiero, que tenia un hijo suyo llamado Antonio Garrigues de edad de cinco anos enferma de unas apostemaciones en el cuello, teniendo noticia de la Santidad y de las maravillosas cosas que se dezian del hijo de Guillermo Ferrer notario ... procuro llevar a Vincente Ferrer hijo del dicho para que le tocasse el mal, teniendo por fe que le avia de curar.... [L]e toco la apostemacion y se la lamio con la lengua. Y encontinente Antonio Garrigues fue hecho sano."

(77) He mentions miracles worked for a woman named "Dona Angela" in 1574; a donzella named Isabel Iuan Camora in 1588; and Dona Beatriz de Canoguera, wife of a cavallero and current jurado of Valencia: Diago, Historia, book 1, chapter 39, 447-54.

(78) Andres Ferrer de Valdecebro, Historia de la vida maravillosa y admirable del segundo Pablo apostol de Valencia S. Vicente Ferrer (Madrid: Manuel de Saneha, 1781); the original edition was Madrid: Matheo de Llanos, 1682. He refers to Vincent as "mi Santo Pariente San Vicente Ferrer": Ferrer de Valdecebro, Historia de la vida maravillosa, "Al que leyere" (unpaginated).

(79) Ferrer de Valdecebro, Historia de la vida maravillosa, "Al que leyere": "la vida es para imitar, los milagros para admirar," y de la admiracion no se saca ningun provecho, de la imitacion muchos."

(80) Ibid., "Santa y devota receta, que dejo San Vicente Ferrer, para que las que son esteriles tengan fruto de benedicion" [unpaginated]: "Dejo dispuesto pues el Santo glorioso, para que le tengan las que son esteriles, lo siguiente: Que vivan bien, y procuren no pecar, y que no nieguen el debito a sus maridos, que se ofrezcan a Dios por la manana, rezando el Credo, y por la tarde el Rosario de Maria Santisima todos los dias, y que lean las que supieren leer el Psalm. 127. que es: Beati omnes qui timent Dominum; y las que no supieren leer, hagan que se lo lean, y lo oygan con atencion, que alli ofrece el Serenisimo Rey David que seran fecundas como vides las mugeres; tendran hijos como renuevos de olivos, y veran con paz y abundancia a los hijos de sus hijos." As Ferrer de Valdecedbro notes, the Psalm promises those who fear the Lord will be rewarded: "Thy wife as a fruitful vine, on the sides of thy house." (Ps. 127:3 Douay-Reims translation).

(81) Ibid.: "[El] ultimo [de milagros en mugeres esteriles] que este ano pasado hizo en la Excelentisima Senora Condesa de Oropesa, es manifesto en toda Espana."

(82) David J. Collins, "Albertus, Magnus, or Magus? Magic, Natural Philosophy, and Religious Reform in the Late Middle Ages," Renaissance Quarterly 63, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 27.

(83) As Andre Vauchez reminds us, what defined a miracle for scholastic theologians was as much its utility as its supernatural character. So, for Albertus Magnus, an authentic miracle was one that strengthened the faith and that contained an invocation of God before it was effected. Vanchez, La saintete, 579.

(84) Gerson, De distinctione verarum visionum a falsis, quoted in Nancy Caciola, Discerning Spirits: Divine and Demonic Possession in the Middle Ages (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2003), 290.

(85) Daston, "Marvelous Facts and Miraculous Evidence," 118-19.

(86) Castiglione, in Vincent Ferret, Sermones de tempore et de sanctis, fol. a4v: "ec que ego facio et ipsi facient et maiora horum facient" (my emphasis).

doi: </DO>10.1017/S0009640711001211</DO>

This essay had its genesis at the October 2004 conference "Miracles as Epistemic Things," at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. My thanks go to Fernando Vidal for organizing that meeting and for numerous other discussions about the authentication of miracles; I have benefited also from comments made by participants at the Office for History of Science and Technology Colloquium at the University of California, Berkeley. Some of the material here also was presented at a workshop of the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, where Alison Frazier suggested to me the felicitous phrase "rhetoric of authenticity." For that, and many other conversations about Vincent Ferrer, I owe her an enormous debt of gratitude.

Thanks also to the editors of Church History for their careful attention to the manuscript.

Laura Ackerman Smoller is Professor of History at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
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