March 12, 2015
This article investigates historical conceptualizations of sanctity in medieval saints’ legends. Sanctity, in its textual representations, emerges from the interaction of traditional legendary narratives, their textual transmission, and varying models of imitability. The legend of St Oswald illustrates the versatility of the saint as persona imitabilis : While historical accounts describe Oswald as a missionary king and martyr, the ›Munich Oswald‹ links the motif of conversion by marriage to the narrative model of the bridal quest. Simultaneously, the feudal aspects of the bridal quest are questioned by references to sanctification by renunciation. This aporetical constitution of sanctity is retold and harmonized in the Berlin manuscript mgq 478. Most of the included narratives have been edited so that they lead to a happy ending. The ›Berlin Oswald‹ thus provides another new model of imitability, the socially acceptable saint, which allows for a better understanding of late medieval conceptualizations of sanctity as well as saints’ legends as a narrative genre.