Jacalyn Duffin offers a profound exploration of illness and healing experiences in contemporary society through the veneration of the twin doctors Saints Cosmas and Damian. She also relates a personal journey, from her role as a hematologist who unexpectedly came to serve as an expert witness in the Church's evaluation of a miracle to her research as a historican on the origins, meaning, and functions of saints.
Duffin's research, which includes interviews with devotees in both North America and Europe, focuses on how people have taken the saints with them as they moved both within Italy and beyond. She shows that veneration of Cosmas and Damian has spread beyond immigrant traditions to fill important functions in healthcare and healing. Duffin's conclusions provide essential insights into medical history, sociology, anthropology, and popular religion, as well as the current medical debate over spiritual healing. Medical Saints draws on medical history and Roman Catholic traditions, but extends to universal observations about the behaviors of sick people and the formal responses to individual illness from collectivities in religion, medicine, and history.
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