Saints as Intercessors between the Wealthy and he Divine

Art and Hagiography among the Medieval Merchant Classes

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Emily Kelley, Cynthia Turner Camp
Sanctity in Global Perspectives
  • New York, NY: 
    , May
     320 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Sofia Fagiolo forthcoming.


Offering snapshots of mercantile devotion to saints in different regions, this volume is the first to ask explicitly how merchants invoked saints, and why. Despite medieval and modern stereotypes of merchants as godless and avaricious, medieval traders were highly devout – and rightly so. Overseas trade was dangerous, and merchants’ commercial activities were seen as jeopardizing their souls. Merchants turned to saints for protection and succor, identifying those most likely to preserve their goods, families, reputations, and souls. 

The essays in this collection, written from diverse angles, range across later medieval western Europe, from Spain to Italy to England and the Hanseatic League. They offer a multi-disciplinary examination of the ways that medieval merchants, from petty traders to influential overseas wholesalers, deployed the cults of saints. Three primary themes are addressed: danger, community, and the unity of spiritual and cultural capital. Each of these themes allows the international panel of contributors to demonstrate the significant role of saints in mercantile life. 

This book is unique in its exploration of saints and commerce, shedding light on the everyday role religion played in medieval life. As such, it will be of keen interest to scholars of religious history, medieval history, art history, and literature.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Emily Kelley is Associate Professor of Art History in the Art Department at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan.

Cynthia Turner Camp is Associate Professor of English at the University of Georgia.


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