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(821 words)

Author(s): Sarah Gordon
Paradoxically, in the Western tradition blindess could be considered either an affliction to be cured, a gift associated with prophetic abilities, or both. A key biblical reference set the precedent for cures of blindness: In John 9, Jesus cured a blind man by applying a mud poultice to the impaired eye and having him wash it from his eyes to restore his sight. Throughout the Middle Ages, pilgrims visited the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem to cure sight impairment. A fourth-century pilgrim from Bor…


(810 words)

Author(s): Sarah Gordon
Deafness and muteness were some of the most commonly reported miracles at pilgrimage sites and shrines in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, after lameness, paralysis, and blindness. Such miraculous cures of disability are grounded in the Gospels, in which Jesus cured deaf, blind, and paralyzed individuals. In many medieval Latin miracles as well as in secular vernacular literature, non-congenital deafness was associated with sin, and in particular with promiscuity, gambling, or renunciation …


(799 words)

Author(s): Sarah Gordon
Lameness, or loss of mobility in one or more limbs, today referred to as physical impairment or disability, was among the more common motivations for pilgrimage. The Christian tradition of miraculous restoration of physical mobility has roots in the Gospels, where Jesus cured these ailments (see for example Matthew 15:30). As in the cases of blindness and deafness, for those suffering from physical impairment in the Middle Ages, pilgrimage and the resulting miracles were perceived as the best ho…