Journal Article

From Holy Hostess to Dragon Tamer: The Anomaly of Saint Martha

Martha M. Daas

in Literature and Theology

Volume 22, issue 1, pages 1-15
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online November 2007 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frm050
From Holy Hostess to Dragon Tamer: The Anomaly of Saint Martha

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Literature
  • Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

The official version of the life of Saint Martha depicts her as Christ's hostess and one of his first followers. Her popular appeal, however, stems less from her biblical role, than from her position in medieval legend. In the Middle Ages, Martha is reinvented as a Gallic saint whose most celebrated feat is taming a dragon. It is this legend that has often displaced Martha's original role, both in text and in iconography. Unlike most depictions of female saints, Martha's power derives from her soul, not from her body. The denial of corporeality as the source of holiness defies the traditional role of the mulier sancta. Martha, as depicted in the texts of the Middle Ages, is a holy person, not a holy vessel. In this article, I am positing a third ‘category’ of female saint: one not defined by her corporeality, that is, her virginity or her physical martyrdom, but by her character, which I claim is indicative of the influence of popular spirituality on the more formal teachings of the Christian church.

Journal Article.  6788 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.