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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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Civic Patron as Ideal Citizen

Civic Patron as Ideal Citizen

The Cult of Pier “Pettinaio” of Siena

(p.83) Chapter 3 Civic Patron as Ideal Citizen
The Lay Saint

Mary Harvey Doyno

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the cult of Pier “Pettinaio” or Pier “the comb-maker” of Siena. Pier lived in Siena until his death in 1289, earning first a pious, and then a saintly reputation for his efforts to follow a rigorous schedule of prayer, to deliver charity to his fellow city-dwellers, and finally to resist the more aggressive commercial practices espoused by other urban artisans and merchants. One sees in Pier's vita how the celebration of a contemporary lay patron became an opportunity to think about the role everyday men and women played in the creation of an ideal civic community. As the vita repeatedly argues, Pier's extraordinary spiritual rigor produced the model of good communal citizenship. But one also sees in this vita an expanded understanding of the content and role of lay charisma. At the same time that the vita celebrates Pier's external actions, it also celebrates his internal focus: his embrace of the contemplative life, his prophetic powers, and his ecstatic states. Thus, in the years immediately before the mendicants took over guardianship and control of the lay penitential life, the cult of a pious Sienese comb-maker demonstrates not only a new equation between the ideal lay Christian and the ideal lay citizen but also an expanded notion of the content and power of lay spirituality.

Keywords:   Pier Pettinaio of Siena, charity, lay patron, civic community, communal citizenship, lay charisma, lay penitential life, lay Christians, lay spirituality, lay citizens

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