Book: Healing Virtue Saludadores Versus Witches In Early Modern Spain by Maria TausietThe absence of any clear dividing line between the fields of medicine and religion3 in early modern Spain becomes particularly evident when looking at the figure of the so-called saludador (literally, a healer, or health-giver, from the verb saludar, to heal). As the term implies, these individuals claimed to have healing powers—powers that stemmed from the possession of a divine gift or innate grace bestowed upon only a chosen few. The concept of “virtue”, understood as both an ability and a moral guarantee, expressed better than any other the widely held belief that disease and sin (and, therefore, health and spiritual perfection) were inextricably linked.4 Rather than operating at an individual and self-reflective level, this implicit assumption meant that both the causes of and cures for many illnesses were attributed to the qualities of good or evil of certain external agents supposedly endowed with extraordinary powers. Of these, the most prominent were, without doubt, witches and saludadores.
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