Christian devotion often focused on holy measurements such as those of Christ's height, side wound, and the nails that pierced him. This article focuses on ones occurring in English manuscripts, primarily from the late fourteenth to the mid‐sixteenth century. The devout touched, kissed, beheld, and wore these measures, drawn scaled or life‐sized, in expectation of protections in life or indulgences after death. These metric relics are considered in light of the mathematics of medieval measurement, which essentially comprised laying one body against another to deliver some kind of ratio or relation. None of the textual amulets delivers a discrete statistic but instead requires a gauging operation, such as multiplying a length fifteen times, thereby placing the worshipper in the position of measurer. By imaginatively measuring the wounds and nails, as if present at the Passion, the votaries interrogate even as they touch.
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Research Article| May 01 2022
To Measure Is to Feel: The Mathematics of Middle English Metric Relics
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (2022) 52 (2): 219–251.
Valerie Allen; To Measure Is to Feel: The Mathematics of Middle English Metric Relics. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 May 2022; 52 (2): 219–251. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-9687858
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