Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Healing Touch of Kings and Queens

Mary I touching the sick
Charles I
In France the kings also had healing ceremonies where the royal touch was said to heal scrofula. Louis XVI held healing ceremonies several times a year. From JSTOR Daily:
These stories reflect a debate that was raging at the time about the nature of sovereignty: Did kings rule by God’s appointment, or by the consent of the ruled? King Charles had asserted his divine right to rule by dissolving Parliament. For this, he was later executed, and the monarchy was transformed into a republic (for a time). For those who believed that English kings ruled by God’s appointment, the execution of King Charles I was a shocking scandal. The accounts of miraculous cures from the king’s blood or blessing, circulating in pamphlets, were a demonstration of God’s favor toward the king. Imagine how many more people could have been healed, one pamphleteer mourned, had Charles lived to bless all the sick and unfortunate of England with his regal hands.

For centuries in England, the ability to heal scrofula had been considered the divinely-granted power of kings. For this reason, the disease was called “the king’s evil,” the evil the king had the power to heal. Edward the Confessor, who ruled from 1042 to 1066, was the first English king to cure the king’s evil with his touch. He anointed a sick woman’s throat with water and made the sign of the cross above it. A wonder followed: “those diseased parts (morbus) that had been treated by the smearing of the king softened and separated from the skin; and, with the pressure of the hand, worms together with pus and blood came out of various holes. Again the good king kneeded with his holy hand and drew out the pus.” The woman was healed.

Over the successive centuries, and successive monarchies, the ritual of the monarch’s healing touch grew from occasional individual healings to vast spectacles. These grand occasions, formalized with an official liturgy, served to prop up the monarchy. The ceremonies showed that the monarchs ruled by the will of God, as divine power worked through the monarch’s anointed hands. The king would touch each sufferer’s swollen throat, make the sign of the cross, and hang a gold coin inscribed with the image of an angel around each neck. Often there were hundreds of supplicants for the king to heal. The mass healings were so popular that eventually sufferers were required to produce a certificate verifying that they had never received the monarch’s touch before.

Not every king was a proponent of the ceremony. William of Orange was famous for his reluctance to perform healings, and indeed seemed to think the whole idea was superstitious nonsense. The one time he was prevailed upon to touch a sufferer from the king’s evil, he prayed to God “to Heal the Patient, and grant him more Wisdom at the same time.” (Read more.)
Louis XIV touching the sick
 More HERE, HERE and HERE.
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