, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 432–443 | Cite as

The sacrificial herb: Gathering prayers in medieval pharmacy

  • Sara RitcheyEmail author
Original Article


This essay examines the plant-gathering prayers that appear throughout thirteenth- and fourteenth-century treatises on medicine and pharmacy as an avenue into uncovering possible late medieval European configurations of the human relationship to plant matter. Although herbals and recipe books might on first glance suggest a relationship of human dominion over the plant world, one in which humans treasured plants for their instrumentality in medical matters, nevertheless the presence of scattered prayers indicate a current of discomfort with this evaluation. Plant-gathering prayers offered scripts for humans to express gratitude for the role plants played in human health and they required humans to recognize the divine creation of – and presence in – plants.


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© Springer Nature Limited 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of Tennessee–KnoxvilleKnoxvilleUSA

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