The ‘abortionist saints’ of medieval Ireland

‘Of Vanishing Fetuses and Maidens Made-Again: Abortion, Restored Virginity, and Similar Scenarios in Medieval Irish Hagiography and Penitentials’, by Maeve Callan, appears in the latest issue of the Journal of the History of Sexuality. Callan examines a wide range of hagiographical works and other sources from medieval Ireland. She writes, “these accounts celebrate saints who perform abortions, restore female fornicators to a virginal state, contemplate infanticide, and result from incest and other ‘illegitimate’ sexual unions. Moreover, the texts themselves generally reflect a remarkably permissive attitude toward these traditionally taboo acts, an attitude also found in Irish penitentials and law codes.” Research examines the ‘abortionist saints’ of medieval Ireland.