|Medieval Talismans and Cramp Rings|
Photo Source: Chest of Books
Once set in a ring belonging to Edward the Confessor (King of England, 1043-1066), St. Edward's Sapphire was known to cure scrofula, a form of tuberculosis that manifests in the neck. King Edward, who was known as a gentle Christian man of humility and prayer, customarily touched and healed many who were ill with scrofula. So effective were his healing services, that the French monarchs soon followed suit. Eventually, it came to be known that touching even the ring of a Royal family member would heal a person.
Even after he died, King Edward's sapphire ring was buried with him in 1066, but after his body's last exhumation in 1163 it appears that King Henry II removed the ring and claimed it for the Crown. The ring continued to hold the power to heal, and many other rings, known as cramprings, were prayed over by subsequent Royals and sent throughout the land for the healing of scrofula and other such wasting diseases.
As one historian, George Younghusband relates, "It was held in the old days to have the magic powers of curing the cramp, and no doubt did so, assisted by implicit faith and when applied by the King himself. Faith has performed more wonderful miracles."
Later, this endowment from God to the reigning monarch would be called the Royal Touch, and the blessing of cramprings as well as Royal healing services were routine customs in England until 1688 and in France until 1825. A change in religious doctrine led by Calvinists, who believed that healing and other spiritual gifts were reserved only for the apostles of the early church, led to the cessation of healing services in England after the reign of Queen Anne.
1. Younghusband, George John and Cyril Davenport. The Crown Jewels of England. London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1919.
2. Greater Emmitsburg Area Historical Society. Hillman's Hyperlinked and Searchable [Robert] Chambers' Book of Days. Entry: March 25th. Accessed June 22, 2012. http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/march/25.htm.
3. Trivia Library. "Famous Exhumations English King Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 22, 2012. http://www.trivia-library.com/b/famous-exhumations-english-king-edward-the-confessor.htm.
4. BBC Religions. "Saint Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 22, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/saints/edward.shtml.
5. English Historical Review, The. A sample from "The King's Evil." London: The Longman Group Limited, 1980. Accessed June 22, 2012. http://ehr.oxfordjournals.org/content/XCV/CCCLXXIV/3.extract.
6. Wikipedia. "Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 22, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_the_Confessor#Early_reign.
*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy