Sources for the Life of St

Sources for the Life of St - Sources for the Life of...

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Sources for the Life of St.Gerald of Aurillac Gerald's life is known solely through the saints' life written by Odo of Cluny (879- 942). Although a contemporary of Gerald, Odo did not know him, an the book appears to have been written as an investigation of Gerald's claim to sainthood. In his preface, Odo states that he visited Aurillac, and interviewed four men who knew Gerald -- two laymen, and two clergymen, one monk and one priest. He then gathered further information, checked it out and came to the conclusion that Gerald had indeed been a saint. The arrangement of the book represents the presentation of the evidence upon which Odo based this conclusion. Book I : Gerald's birth, youth and education, secular and political actions. Book II : His religious avocation, and miracles attributed to him while alive. Book III : His death and interment. Book IV : Miracles at his tomb. The care shown in assembling the case shows that there was much room for doubt of Gerald's sanctity. Odo betrays the reasons for this doubt: A: Gerald, as a layman, ignored many of the normal paraphernalia of saint hood, such as fasting, retirement, mortification of the flesh. The question of the value of the ascetic ideal -- at least in its letter -- was being called into question. It was Odo's contention that Gerald fulfilled as many of the ascetic ideals as possible. B: As Odo says, Gerald was one of "the Great". It says something about the general tenor of the times that there was some dispute as to whether a noble could be good. C: For Odo, at least, a great difficulty lay in the basic quality of the age. Odo's favorite source of quotations in the Life was the book of Job. For Odo, the times were so hard, that he was convinced that the age of the AntiChrist had come, and in' this age, the saints will cease to work their wonders. Thus, if Gerald were a saint, he represented a sign from God that the end of time was not yet near, and society would regenerate itself. II: The Times It is important in this regard to consider the times which were the source of such despair. A: The Carolingian system of empire had steadily decayed after the reign of Louis the Pious. The old empire faced three external dangers: Vikings, Magyars, and Saracens. The Germanies had mainly to face only the Magyars, and the Dukes of the various buffer states were quite able to do so. Northern France had to face primarily the menace of the Vikings, and there was no well-developed system of Duchies to do so. Instead, the major officials were the counts, whose powers and duties had been primarily judicial. The South of France was in the worst position of all: it was exposed to the the Vikings along the Loire and Garonne, the Magyars through Burgundy (Apparently one group made it all the way into Spain), and the Saracens along the coast (one group
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established themselves at St. Tropez and extended up into the Alps, effectively cutting off overland communication with Italy. B: Central Authority declined constantly
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Sources for the Life of St - Sources for the Life of...

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