The Influence of the Catholic Church and Political Entities on Christian Miracles from Late Antique to Middle Age Gaul (316- 868 CE)
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Many historians have neglected the period of late Antique Gaul (400 CE) into the early Middle Ages (900 CE). The average student growing up within the American school system has no idea what occurred within this period. The only chance to learn of it is when discussing in general terms the end of the Roman Empire, and that is if one is lucky. Although there have been historians such as Raymond VanDam who have researched late Antique Gaul and Gregory of Tours, there is another angle in which research can explore this period: Christian miracles. When looking at miracles, it is poignant to take them from different periods. For the purpose of this paper, two periods will be utilized: St. Martin's lifetime (316-397 CE) to Gregory of Tours' episcopate (573-594 CE) and St. Maurus' lifetime (510-583 CE) to Odo, abbot of Glanfeuil (861-? CE). As one traverses these two periods, one can see a distinctive shift in the nature of the miracles: from destructive to constructive to destructive again. This shift in nature can be attributed to the stability of the Catholic Church and the political infrastructure in each period. Each shift will be analyzed for this link between the nature of the miracles and the stability of Church and State. Now, one may ask what is meant by "nature of miracles" and the adjectives associated with this phrase. When "nature of miracles" is used, this refers to whether the actions committed by the people and the saint within the miracle are destructive or constructive. When the term "destructive" is used, the miracle shows the destruction of an object, violence toward a person, or an exorcism. Destructive miracles can be found within the period of Rome's fall during St. Martin's life and Odo's reign as abbot of Glanfeuil, the monastery built by St. Maurus. When the term "constructive" is used, the miracle portrays constructive qualities such as the healing of a broken limb, the curing of a disease like epilepsy, or bringing someone back to life. Constructive miracles are mostly found in the period of Gregory of Tours and St. Maurus.