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Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century$
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Rebecca Anne Barr, Sylvie Kleiman-Lafton, and Sophie Vasset

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526127051

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526127051.001.0001

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The saints of the entrails and the bowels of the earth

The saints of the entrails and the bowels of the earth

(p.311) 15 The saints of the entrails and the bowels of the earth
Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century

Jacques Gélis

Manchester University Press

This article explores the texts and visual representations of the ‘saints of the bowels’ in order to establish an anthropological classification of aching bellies in early-modern France. A web of symbols is found in the materiality of the viscera. Thus, this article argues that representations of the belly as cave-like mirrors some images of the bowels of the earth. The “Saints of the Entrails”, St Erasmus and St Mammes, and Saint Elmo, all of whom were eviscerated during their martyrdom, represented many popular beliefs of rural communities who conflated images of the soil and images of the belly.

Keywords:   Christian saints, Martyrdom, Fertility, Bowels, Mining, Bellyache, Healing rituals

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