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Heilige Als Patrone Gegen Den Schlaganfall1

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image of Early Science and Medicine

In Christian Europe of the High Middle Ages, saints played a central role in the everyday life of the ailing. Alongside healing attempts which involved magic and/or scientifically-based medicine, the invocation of specific patron saints for protection against evils or for the curing of ailments was a widespread practise. A large choice of patron saints was "available" for a wide range of diseases, especially those nowadays classified as neurologic or psychiatric. For the falling sickness alone, e.g., there is evidence of some twenty patron saints reputed to have a particular involvement. Surprisingly, there is no evidence of a comparable devotion to patrons for apoplectics. This "negative result" is confirmed by a thorough examination of medieval sources. St. Wolfgang and St. Andreas Avellino are the only two proven stroke patrons. Both, however, were only known within their respective locations. The absence of a specific supportive Christian figure for stroke victims deserves particular analysis: The high fatality rate of apoplexy and the lack of commercial interest on the part of the Christian places of pilgrimage may serve as possible explanations.

Affiliations: 1: Universität zu Köln


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