Around the (Early Modern) World in Forty Saints

This will be the page for the podcast that I hope to launch in the coming weeks: a project that will explore the early modern world- across Eurasia and into the Americas- through the prism of holy people and their lives (both in the literal sense and in the hagiographic sense of vitae and its equivalent in other languages and traditions). As the title indicates, by the end of this series we will have explored the lives of (at least) forty saints in various traditions- Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, and others- drawing upon hagiographic texts, the writings of holy people themselves (in particular autobiographical accounts), while also exploring what constituted holiness, sainthood, and general religious life in these various contexts. Along the way we will enjoy rich and deep forays into everyday life, extraordinary events, conflicts, wars, and transformations of the early modern world, viewed from an angle that you might not have thought of before.

The format will be pretty straightforward: most episodes will consist of a brief introduction to the saint and his or her historical context (I will also likely include standalone episodes dealing just with matters of context or setting), followed by narrated sources. The lives of saints in this period and before were for the most part meant to be read out loud, since well into the nineteenth century literacy as we know it remained relatively rare- but also because these lives, like the holy people they introduced, were social artefacts, meant to be heard and interacted with, often times in the presence of the holy person’s tomb or relic shrine or other place associated with him or her.

This page will feature a list of all of the saints profiled, with short descriptions for each episode plus relevant visual material, links to other resources, and a short bibliography.

While I am still developing the material and figuring out the parameters, here are a few of the people whose lives and historical contexts I will be featuring here:

‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (Ottoman, Muslim, 17th-early 18th century)
Paisius Velichkovsky (Ukrainian and Ottoman, Eastern Orthodox, 18th century)
Vardapet Pōghos (Safavid and Armenian, Armenian Orthodox, 17th century)
Hakuin Ekaku (Japanese, Zen Buddhist, 18th century)
Boiarynia Morozova (Russian, Old Believer Orthodox, 17th century)