By analysing a corpus of saints' lives from he 12th and 13th century Low Countries, this article argues that 'self mutilation' had been viewed as typically female in the context of avoiding marriage and marital sexuality and of serving as an instrument for the divine. Yet, 'self-mutilation' is used by men as well as women for many other, common reasons and for both it sees to imply a similar morally dualistic attitude towards the sinful, human body. The fact that 'self-mutilation' also plays a role in the life of men viz. illiterate semi-religious and lay-converts, demonstrates that it is an important element of the road to sanctity for all those who, because of gender or status, do not belong to the intellectual and religious elite.
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