Disintegrating Bodies in Osbern Bokenham’s Legends of Saint Christine and Saint Margaret

Geldenhuys, Katharine L.
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The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
Although gender concerns are often a crucial aspect of the study of the body in saints’ legends it has become such a major focus in the study of Saint Christine, in particular, that other salient features have frequently been neglected. One such issue is the treatment of bodies and their disintegration in terms of the traditional late medieval Christian milieux. According to Bynum ‘by the thirteenth century the prevalent concept of person was of a psychosomatic unity’ and ‘the orthodox position in eschatology required resurrection of body—as well as soul at the end of time’ (Fragmentation and Redemption 183). Therefore, death may be seen as the disintegration of a psychosomatic entity, involving the separation of the soul from the body, and resurrection, which, it was believed, would occur at the Final Judgement, as their reintegration. The focus here will be on possible religious interpretations of the disintegration of bodies in the legends of Saint Christine and Saint Margaret in Osbern Bokenham’s Legendys of Hooly Wummen (Serjeantson) in terms of this notion of disintegration and reintegration of bodies, which may be regarded as parallel to the Christian concepts of death and resurrection.
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