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Levitation, From Antiquity to Joseph of Cupertino and Beyond

Levitation, From Antiquity to Joseph of Cupertino and Beyond

An Examination of the Evidence

By Olivier Leroy

294 pp

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About the Book

“According to an ancient, uninterrupted, and almost certainly general tradition, the human body is able, with certain persons, at certain moments, to be raised from the ground, to remain suspended in mid-air without any visible prop, and sometimes move about in it, without the traceable action of any physical force. The phenomenon is now called levitation.” So begins Olivier Leroy’s singular and fascinating study of the subject, with a special focus on saints from the Christian tradition. The 2023 book by Yale historian Carlos Eire, They Flew: A History of the Impossible, has once again brought these extraordinary phenomena to the attention of contemporary readers. But, according to Eire, this volume by Olivier Leroy, first published in 1928, remains the only one to provide a thorough examination of the traditions, the facts, and the theories; as he says, “the first and only comprehensive history of the subject of levitation,” and “still unsurpassed, nearly a century later.” Among the most notable levitators the reader will encounter are Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Elizabeth of Hungary, Catherine of Siena, Francis Xavier, Ignatius Loyola, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Philip Neri, Joseph of Cupertino, Mary of Agreda (María de Ágreda), and Alphonsus Liguori. 

Levitation, From Antiquity to Joseph of Cupertino and Beyond challenges all readers to imagine a world animated by a different understanding of reality. This assiduous cross-cultural study of levitation — ancient, medieval, and modern  remains the indispensable source for our knowledge of these truly extraordinary but little-known phenomena.

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