Article ID: CBB000850277

Miracles, Science, and Testimony in Post-Tridentine Saint-Making (2007)


Vidal, Ferdnando (Author)

Science in Context
Volume: 20
Pages: 481--508

Publication Date: 2007
Edition Details: Part of the special issue “Believing Nature, Knowing God”
Language: English

Seeing a prodigious cure happen and then testifying about it certainly differs from attending an air pump experiment in order to bear witness to it. Yet early-modern saint-making and the new or experimental philosophy shared juridical roots, and thereby an understanding of the role of testimony for the establishment of matters of fact and for the production of legitimate knowledge. The reforms carried out after the Council of Trent, especially during Urban VIII's pontificate (1623--1644), of the juridical procedures for saint-making in the Catholic Church implied a new attitude towards the examination of proposed miracles. Most of these miracles were healings. While the appeal to medical expertise had long been common, and skepticism had often manifested itself regarding cures or extraordinary bodily phenomena, both were now given formal status. Miracle inquests henceforth leaned towards refuting miraculousness by means of natural explanations. The procedure was systematized in a treatise published in the 1730s by Prospero Lambertini (later pope Benedict XIV). The combination of Lambertini's work with the canonization causes in which he acted as the devil's advocate in charge of disputing arguments favorable to a sainthood candidate allows for a reconstruction of the interplay between the juridical and scientific economies of saint-making, and of the role of testimony in the production of trust and evidence.


Description On the Catholic Church's canonization practices in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially its use of naturalistic argumentation in “devil's advocate” reasoning and the relation of this to the new experimental philosophy.

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Article Vidal, Fernando; Kleeberg, Bernhard (2007) Introduction: Knowledge, Belief, and the Impulse to Natural Theology. Science in Context (p. 381). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
de Ceglia, Francesco Paolo
Pomata, Gianna
Ernst, Germana
Lohr, Charles H.
Matton, Sylvain
Shaw, Jane
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Culture and Cosmos
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Perspectives on Science
Renaissance Studies
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Yale University Press
Peter Lang
École Française de Rome
Brepols Publishers
Leo S. Olschki
Gütersloher Verlagshaus
Science and religion
Roman Catholicism
Natural philosophy
Galilei, Galileo
Urban VIII, Pope
Malpighi, Marcello
Januarius, Saint, Bishop of Benevento
Campanella, Tommaso
Pascal, Blaise
Great Britain
17th century
18th century
16th century
19th century
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

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