Saturday, 17 September 2011

Jacob's Well

Jacob's Well is another religious manual...that currently holds the title for most disgusting story involving leprosy in Middle English.

A bishop meets a leper on a road. The leper asks the bishop to lick the bogey out of his nose as his nose is too tender to be wiped with a cloth. The bishop does lick the nose and as he does so a gem stone falls out of the leper's nose, it is the stone of grace...a gift from God for the bishop's humility...still gross though! Naturally the leper disappears having given the bishop this wonderful gift!


  1. hi rhiannon. i am working on the eucharist and bodily waste / body anxiety / transubstantiation anxiety in the middle ages in london. the 'snot' leper tale is also in 'an alphabet of tales' (alphabetum narrationum). it's great! jacob's well was a source for the alphabet of tales. have you read martha bayless's 'sin and filth in medieval culture'. and also susan morrison's wonderful 'excrement in the middle ages'. all the best! Jay (excuse lower case - in a hurry)

  2. Hi Jay,
    Firstly thanks for your comment...its nice to know that someone has read my leprosy based rantings! It seems there would be a good bit of crossover in our research. Shockingly I mannaged to miss the version of the snot story when I went through the Alphabet so thank you very much! I have not read either of those texts but they sound amazing so I will track them down. In the spirit of sharing critics have you read Susan Zimmerman's article 'Leprosy in the medieval imaginary' She discusses connections between lepers jews and menstruating women in medieval literature with a particular focus on the eucharist and body anxiety. Thanks again for your comment! Rhiannon