Wooden statue of St Benignus, probably French, 17th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Catholic Church dominated medieval Europe, and Christian teaching often implied that illnes was the result of sin. Prayer therefore became an important part of healing. Benignus may have been a misionary priest from Lyons who was martyred at Epagny, France in the late second century under the Roman Emperor Aurelian.