Holy Water, Holy Wells
Justification of the Spring Blessings of Guðmundr Arason
Fimmtudaginn 28. september 2017 kl. 16.30
On the continent and the British Isles, a tradition of ‘holy wells’—wells that are ‘other’ than everyday water sources, which may have special powers of healing, foretelling the future, or even cursing—are today often associated with saints, although in some cases their use can often be traced to the prehistoric period. Not so Iceland, whose human habitation began in the ninth century. However, many Icelandic springs/wells had a reputation for healing powers in medieval times, which in some cases survived to the present day. These water sources are commonly associated with Bishop Guðmundr the Good Arason (d. 1237), a religious innovator whose activity, including the blessing of water sources caused controversy. Fourteenth-century versions of his saga contain a defense of the practice, said to have been delivered to the Archbishop of Trondheim; an analysis of this defense forms the main part of my paper. I will discuss various means of producing ‘Holy Water’, and then discuss the origins of the ideas presented in Guðmundr’s defence of his practice of blessing springs.
Margaret Cormack is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the College of Charleston, SC, and Affiliate Professor in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Iceland. She has published The Saints in Iceland: Their Veneration from the Conversion to 1400 and edited several volumes pertaining to the cult of saints at different times and locations. She is interested in vernacular religion in all its forms.
Fyrirlesturinn verður fluttur á ensku og er öllum opinn.