Séance du mercredi 27 octobre 2021

Pratiques religieuses et villes d’eaux
Lieu : Université de Paris + en ligne (lien sur demande aux organisateurs)

  • Andrea Toffolon (Università degli studi di Padova, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia) :   « Holy Spas. Religion and Medicine in Early Modern Venice.  »
  • Liesbeth Corens (Queen Mary – University of London) :  « « Out of Time: Temporality and Confessional Relations in an International Spa Town »

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« Holy Spas. Religion and Medicine in Early Modern Venice. » 

Andrea Toffolon (Università degli studi di Padova, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

In the early fifteenth century, a soldier saw a Marian apparition in the city of Monteortone, near the Paduan baths of Abano; the Madonna promised to heal his wounds if he would have taken the water of the nearby thermal source. The soldier followed the instructions and so he was healed; then he found an image of the Madonna in the water. Subsequently, a small oratory (that incorporated the thermal source) was build, and a few years later this was enlarged and became a church, with an annexed convent of the Augustinians. This sequence adheres to the typical Marian apparitions stories and legends, but there is more to it. In the Counter-reformation period, this story was used by the local erudite historian and bishop Giacomo Filippo Tomasini to justify the presence of the Augustinians and to testify the importance of the monastery and its miraculous thermal water. His printed book on the history of the Madonna of Monteortone (1644) suggests a more effective healing power of the Monteortone thermal water, due to its sacred feature, than that of the famous and nearby Abano spas. Moreover, this book and other historical sources attest the attempt to delimitate the fields of medicine and religion – a  process, carried out by medical and religious authorities, that was not always successful. I will discuss this case study in order to demonstrate the long history of the overlap between medical and religious aspects in the development of thermal sources and spas; moreover, I will underline the rhetorical aspects and the common propaganda features of treatises on spas, written by physicians or clerics.

 

« Out of Time: Temporality and Confessional Relations in an International Spa Town »

Liesbeth Corens (Queen Mary – University of London)

Spa, a little town, hidden deep in the Ardennes, has for centuries attracted international visitors by virtue of its acidic waters. It was a place of retreat and détente, where rivalries between nations and confessions were seemingly put on hold, for the sake of healthcare. This paper takes that temporal coexistence as starting point. Foregoing retrospective assumptions of ‘Enlightened’ values, it looks at the concrete motivations and practices by which coexistence was made possible. Bracketing out disputes for the time of the health retreat, interwoven calendars, and fluctuating priorities all ensured that this town, which promised a time out of daily preoccupations, was, nonetheless, very firmly of its time. 


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