Devotion to the saints played a crucial role in the religious life of the Middle Ages. Kings and queens, merchants and craftsmen, beggars and thieves - all were alike in drawing inspiration, reassurance, and solace from the lives of holy martyrs and pious confessors. Saints were much loved because they held a unique position in the hierarchy of Heaven; they had the power to intercede directly with God on behalf of the living.
Familiar though many saints may be, some elements of their history are not immediately obvious. How does one become a saint? Who were the first saints? Why was the devotion to saints so passionate? Why did certain individuals, professions, towns, and countries adopt particular saints as their patrons? Why were a saint's relics so important and why were pilgrimages to their shrines so important?
In "Saints in Medieval Manuscripts," Greg Buzwell documents how saints were represented in the manuscripts of the Middle Ages. He focuses on those saints whose cults were based in the Latin West, including the well known, like St Sebastian and St George, as well as many less familiar ones. The book is beautifully illustrated with examples taken primarily from the British Library's collection of medieval western manuscripts. Buzwell also discusses the particular nature of these manuscripts and their importance in medieval religious life.
Greg Buzwell is the manuscripts loans curator in the Department of Manuscripts at the British Library.
"…explores the symbolism and purpose of saints from showing the significance of martyrs and virgin martyrs by means of beautiful illustrations from the British Library’s archives. Although saints are said to bear the weighty burden of being mediators between the earth and the heavens, the book is light in its tone and makes enjoyable reading."