Master John Schorn: The Rector Who conjured the Devil Into A Boot!

Folk Saint John Schorne was the Rector of North Marston in Buckinghamshire in the 13th century. He is said to have effected many miracles including curing the sick and creating a sacred spring by striking his staff on the ground. This became a Holy Well with a reputation to cure the ague and gout.

However, his most feted moment is when it is said that he conjured the devil into a boot – an image captured upon the 14th century pilgrimage badge cast for the many pilgrims who visited his shrine. Opinion varies as to whether this image was an analogy for his ability to cure gout or as to his reputation as an exorcist. The reputation of both his healing Well and the ability of his relics to work miracles greatly grew following his death.

After his death his shrine became the third most popular pilgrimage destination after Canterbury and Walsingham. Even Henry VIII is said to have visited it in 1511 and 1521.

This talk covers the legends associated with John Schorne, a short review of shoe lore (and their associations with fertility and their apotropaic applications), the Holy Wel &, the ritual deposition of pilgrim badges in watery locales. It will also feature a case study of the medieval graffiti and inscriptions found at his shrine and the parish church at Marston – which was subject to an archaeological survey by the author

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