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The Bleeding Host Of Dijon: Its Place In The History Of Eucharistic Devotion

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Chapter Summary

The Dijon host presents a somewhat unusual version of a motif common to the Middle Ages, the unholy violence of enemies, usually Jews or witches, provoking a manifestation of holiness from the Eucharist bread. Bleeding hosts were first mentioned in the late 13th century. Although not the earliest blood relics, they were the most typical of their time. Earlier blood relics were supposed to contain the blood shed by Christ in his lifetime, at the Circumcision or on the Cross. Aron Gurevich argues that hosts were not just signifiers of the holy, but of medieval symbolism in general. They were believed to be united to the holy in an effective manner, producing real effects. Moreover, not all bleeding host stories were tied to Jews-or to witches. The earliest stories were intended to demonstrate the reverence due the Eucharist, not the Real Presence or transubstantiation per se.

Keywords: Aron Gurevich; bleeding host; Dijon; Eucharist bread



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