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The Lay SaintCharity and Charismatic Authority in Medieval Italy, 1150-1350$
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Mary Harvey Doyno

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501740206

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501740206.001.0001

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From Charisma to Charity

From Charisma to Charity

Lay Sanctity in the Twelfth-Century Communes

(p.23) Chapter 1 From Charisma to Charity
The Lay Saint

Mary Harvey Doyno

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on a twelfth-century Italian urban lay saint: the merchant turned penitent Ranieri of Pisa (d. 1160). It is within the first written and visual sources created to celebrate Ranieri that one finds the most extensive evidence of a twelfth-century layman being celebrated more for his work as a living holy man than for his pious activities. In short, in the earliest cults of laymen in the Italian communes, it is spiritual gifts or charisma—specifically the performance of miracles—and not pious actions like a dedication to penance, a rigorous prayer schedule, or charity work that stand as the most compelling proof for sanctity. The first sources created for Ranieri's cult gives one an opportunity to see not only a detailed portrait of this kind of lay charisma but also how threatening such claims must have been to the institutional church in the late twelfth century. Although asceticism, pilgrimage, and charity would become defining characteristics of late medieval lay religion and would eventually come to dominate the cults of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century lay saints, Ranieri's early cult demonstrates how such a threefold identity was not emphasized in early lay saints' cults but rather emerged out of Pope Innocent III's efforts to redirect and reconceive of an ideal lay life.

Keywords:   lay saints, Ranieri of Pisa, cults, spiritual gifts, lay charisma, miracles, sanctity, lay religion, Pope Innocent III, pious activities

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