Saints And Diseases: an Onomastic Relationship

Sabrina Veneziani


Praying saints to obtain soul salvation and body recovering was a common practice in medieval time. The history of certain diseases has been strictly related with devotion and pilgrimages. The current nomenclature of particular illnesses is an inheritance of that relationship. Epidemics of S. Anthonys fire, caused by eating contaminated rye bread, and S. Vitus dance, maybe a kind of chorea, occurred frequently in the Middle Age. The durability of these onomastic associations and the survival of patronage on these sicknesses had a long evolution along the centuries, as shown by a multitude of medieval sources.


Keywords: Saint Anthonys fire - Ergotism S. Vitus dance Sydenhams chorea

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