In 1234, the papacy asserted an exclusive right to canonize saints. To gain control over the canonization process, popes required increasingly specific written evidence from communities about their saints and developed investigative procedures to authenticate the communities’ miraculous evidence. Gathering written testimony for review in Rome was an act of domination over local processes for sanctifying community members. Not only did papal record-keeping remove decision-making from local hands, but it also enabled review of correct belief, structured community responses to the sacred, and provided an effective display of papal rights. During the process of St. Gilbert of Sempringham in 1201–1203, Pope Innocent III articulated new record-keeping requirements. St. Gilbert’s canonization provides a window into this transition.
Archival Science | History | Library and Information Science
Copyright Michelle Light. Used with permission.
Evidence of Sanctity: Record-keeping and Canonization at the Turn of the 13th Century.