Steven Fanning

Steven C. Fanning, PhD, 71, died on May 15, 2018 at his Oak Park home from prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Born on Feb. 17, 1947 in Weatherford, Oklahoma, where his father was a druggist, he held degrees in history from Texas Tech University and his doctorate in medieval history from the University of Minnesota. He was a historian specializing in late antiquity, the Middle Ages, and mysticism. He retired from the University of Illinois Chicago in 2012 after teaching for more than 40 years as an associate professor of medieval history, receiving two Silver Circle awards for teaching excellence. 

His research on the history of France in the 10th and 11th centuries resulted in the publication of A Bishop and His World: Hubert of Angers, 1006-1047 and co-translation of The Annals of Flodoard of Reims, 919-966. His interest in mysticism resulted in the popular book Mystics of the Christian Tradition, the first book to bring all the various Christian mystics together in a single volume. After retirement, he worked from original church records to produce with Charles Chauncey Wells, New North Church: From Birth to Death in Early Boston in 2014 about the largest church in Boston at the time of the Revolution. 

After a near-death experience from an asthma attack on a London street in 1988, which left him paralyzed, his recovery was considered a medical miracle achieved through energy healing he learned to do himself and with others’ healing prayers. This led him to lecture and write about mysticism, near-death experiences, and spiritual healing, culminating in his last book, Adventures in Healing, published in July 2017. 

His survivors include his children, Soren (Susan) and Nissa (Damian) Felton; and his grandchildren, Emily Fanning and Malin, Karoline, and Jake Felton. 

Funeral services were conducted on May 19 at Grace Episcopal Church where he founded the Intensive Healing Prayer Group and was active in various roles in the liturgy and governance. 

Funeral arrangements were coordinated by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.

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