We take note of some of them, and place less importance on others.

Every human feels emotions, even those who in the 18th century, claimed to have been granted miracles of St Rose of Viterbo.

This is precisely the topic Sarah Tiboni will explore in her upcoming seminar ‘Emotions in a Miracle of St Rose: An Italian Eighteenth-Century Notarial Source’, to be held on Thursday, April 12.

Pisa native Tiboni is an Honorary Associate in the Meanings Program of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Europe 1100–1800 at The University of Western Australia.

Founded in 2011, the centre uses historical knowledge from Europe between 1100 and 1800 to understand the long history of emotional behaviours.

Dr Tiboni graduated in Archival Studies from the University of Pisa in 2001and completed her PhD in Archival Studies from the University of Siena in 2016.

She is also an archivist from Archival School of Florence State Archive and works as an archivist in Italian archives. 

The young intellect moved to Perth just over a year ago and now divides her life in Australia between her family and her passion and profession as an “all-round” archivist.

The fact that ancient Italian documents aren’t available online makes her job very valuable and interesting and archivists like Dr Tiboni hold the key to the past and the stories of our ancestors.

At the end of April, Dr Tiboni will present a lecture at the Dante Alighieri Society of Western Australia, explaining that access to Italian public archives is free, should Italo-Australians wish to retrace their heritage.

“Many people think that you have to pay to access these documents, like in the US, and they should also know that they can seek assistance in doing so,” the archivist said.

In her upcoming seminar, Dr Tiboni will reveal the results of the study of an unpublished Italian notarial source, known as the Miracles of Fabriano, which includes religious sentiments and emotional responses of worshippers who were granted miracles of St Rose of Viterbo in the period between 1738 and 1740. 

Patron saint of the town of Viterbo, in Lazio, St Rose has a compelling story.

Adoration of the saint began shortly after her death in 1251, but she was also deemed a significant figure in the community during her brief life.

Notarial sources are generally regarded as very strict and purely administrative documents, but this case consists of depositions issued to a notary in which worshippers recall and explain the emotions of their miraculous experiences (desperation, hope, compassion), making its analysis even more fascinating.

“It was very interesting to see how some devotees also felt doubtful,” Dr Tiboni said.

“Doubtful that the cure would last, above all.”

The document’s introduction, conclusion and part of the body are written in Latin – the language used in official documents during that era – but the depositions were given in the vernacular.

The level of culture and education among the devotees was very low, as they were primarily poor, illiterate, and unable to afford medical treatment.

“The miracles in question mainly refer to health,” Dr Tiboni explained.

“Often the doctor advised the devotees to seek the sacrament of Extreme Unction [now known as the Anointing of the Sick] as there would be no hope. Then, however, they healed and recovered.”

From the language used to the illnesses that were called by different names and the social status of the devotees, this seminar will be a valuable opportunity for students of Italian, medicine, history and more, alongside those with a general interest in the topic.

To participate in the free seminar, which will take place from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm at the University of Western Australia’s Philippa Maddern Seminar Room, send an email of interest to emotions@uwa.edu.au