The saints of the entrails and the bowels of the earth
in Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century
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In Catholic countries, the healing and fertilising caves, springs and stones had been replaced by a variety of saints of the bowels, to whom their devotees similarly prayed for restoration of their intestinal health. Eighteenth-century parishioners suffering from various bellyaches still fervently prayed for the intercession of the saints. The common denominator is the mechanism of disembowelment used to tear out the entrails of the earth and those of the saint. The etymology of the various forms of St Agapit's name explains why he was endowed with the power to heal. The devotion to the healing saints of the entrails therefore points to a dual level of symbolic references: the belly of the martyr and the belly of the earth. The life of St Mammès illustrates of this dual background.


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