Anna-Stina Hägglund: References to Saints in Medieval Charters

Master of Arts Anna-Stina Hägglund is finishing her dissertation study at Åbo Akademi University on the topic Birgittine monasteries across the Baltic Sea region, where she concentrates on the role of these monasteries shaped through their interactions with the lay communities. Her subproject within Lived Religion in Medieval Finland focuses on references to saints in charters from the late medieval Turku diocese. 

The preserved charters, both as originals and copies, from the Turku diocese form a multifaceted source material, but the majority of these documents concern the administration of landed property and property transactions, such as sales, pawns, confirmations, disputes, and last but not least donations to the church. There are two main points of departure in this subproject. Firstly, the significance of saints in the individual life manifested through the relatively many preserved charters of donations, or copies of them, directed to Nådendal monastery or to prebends dedicated to saints in the Cathedral of Turku. The charters of donations reveal both personal preferences and customs concerning which saints people directed their donations to. Secondly, even if a considerable part of the preserved sources do not directly concern religious and devout topics, they are nonetheless indications of the presence of religion in everyday life. This becomes evident from the dating of the charters where references to the liturgical calendar was the most common form of dating documents. The theoretical point of departure is that the practices of dating documents also reveal local and regional traits concerning the saints that were established in the diocese. The charters thus give a vital approach to how belief and saints were present in everyday matters