Healing the Body, Healing the Soul: Methods of Therapy in Medieval Europe

June 20, 2024–December 15, 2024

Walters Art Museum

600 North Charles St.

Baltimore, MD 21202
Centre Street Building, Level 3, Medieval Gallery

Health, wellness, and healing are universal issues that have preoccupied people since the beginning of human memory. Medieval Europeans held the belief that the body and soul were connected and impossible to separate. Maintaining bodily and spiritual health was considered a constant but necessary challenge, and people of this time period dedicated significant effort and time to finding remedies for bodily and spiritual ailments. Many of these practices are reflected in the art and books of the time.

On view June 20, Healing the Body, Healing the Soul: Methods of Therapy in Medieval Europe explores the intimate link between body and soul as envisioned during the medieval period and demonstrates how works of art contributed to medieval European understandings of wellness and even aided in therapeutic practices.

Divided into three sections which address physical healing, spiritual healing, and the interlinked nature of physical and spiritual health, works in the exhibition examine medical theories, medicine in practice, saints and health, pilgrimage, and spiritual exercise. Featuring 23 works, visitors will see rare books and manuscripts from the Walters library along with medieval objects. To provide a contemporary perspective, the exhibition also includes a photograph by blind artist Pete Eckert from his Bone Light series. 

According to the artist, who creates light photography of his skeleton, the loss of his sight produced a phantom sense of light coming from his bones which he captures in illuminated portraits. The work speaks to the current lived experiences of people with disabilities and creates a link to understand how disability was understood during the medieval period in the context of body and spirit.

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