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4. Health and Holiness

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Chapter Summary

In the sixteenth century the perceived relationship between spiritual salvation and physical health was ambivalent. The body represented the corruption of the world as against the immortality of the incorporeal soul. However, the body also seemed to reflect materially either the soul's purity or its sinfulness. The professional incapacity to diagnose and remedy physical ailments, as conveyed by Antonio Gallonio, is in contrast to the medical reaction to Neri's inexplicable abnormality. Medical experts were often greatly at odds about bodily processes, but they agreed on one thing: Neri's cardiac region was a supernatural phenomenon, to be ascribed to the omnipotence of God. While in Gallonio's Vita medical practitioners always remain passive spectators in the case of miraculous healing, they abruptly take center stage when they investigate the supernatural body of the saint.

Keywords: Antonio Gallonio; internal anatomy; physical health; saints; spiritual salvation



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