Academic Term: Spring semester 2020
Imagine a single light source in a cathedral, shining through an elongated stained-glass window along the side of a wall. The bright colors and detailed images of the window contrast with the dark and immense interior of the holy sacred place. The Miracle Windows of Trinity Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral speak to those who enter, telling the miracle stories of those who came before them and proclaiming the power of Saint Thomas Becket.
Extending from Cologne, Germany, up to Sweden, reliquary busts of St. Ursula and her companions are one of the few female-centric religious objects that prevailed in the Middle Ages.
The town of Vézelay is a departure point for the major medieval pilgrimage to the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, as well as a pilgrimage destination in its own right, as the possessor of the relics of Mary Magdalene.1
Located in the French city of Autun, the Cathedral of Saint Lazarus of Autun (fig. 1) is an example of intricately designed Romanesque architecture. It receives countless pilgrims on their journeys toward Santiago de Compostela. Venerating Saint Lazarus, the cathedral exhibits religious significance from a variety of elements; it is a substantial force in the “pilgrim economy” of Burgundy.
Beginnings and endings are eternal quests for the entity of beings. Spiritual fulfillment, paradoxically, is emphasized through physical matters, acts, and sensations. Pilgrimage, in a way, is born out of this paradox, for although it is a spiritual undertaking, pilgrims do have an earthly destination in mind. Medieval pilgrimages were arduous for the faithful, and both physical and psychological turmoil might have tested the pilgrims’ determination to complete their journeys. Perhaps it is only fair to start with one of the most significant beginnings and endings. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is at once the site of the beginning of Christ’s life—and so arguably where Christianity all began—and near the end of a pilgrim’s long journey to Jerusalem.
Matthew Paris’s map demonstrates the medieval practice of monastic monks partaking in a virtual journey to the holy Jerusalem. Welsh pilgrimage poetry, architectural replicas of the Holy Sepulchre in Europe, and the map show the wealth of creative approaches taken by devout Christians in the Middle Ages to simulate pilgrimage experiences from different individual perspectives and local social contexts.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Jerusalem. It was founded in the mid-fourth century and underwent numerous reconstructions for devotional and political reasons. These most significant changes occurred in the eleventh, twelfth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, when some aesthetic features were altered to fit different devotional tastes (1).
Foy (or Faith in English) was a young woman who lived in Agen in southwestern France. Widely known as a virgin martyr, Foy was a very popular saint across the Middle Ages.
The Veil of Veronica in Rome (fig. 1), or simply the Veronica, has consistently been one of the most popular relics of the Middle Ages whose association with Christ and well-documented legends have attracted a ceaseless stream of pilgrims at least since the twelfth century. The relic’s sui generis nature of being an acheiropoieton, an image made without hands, has opened up a dynamic body of research that discusses the relic’s inherent tensions: some focus on the reproducibility and substitutability of the Veronica as a holy image and the decentered pilgrimage experience that it has created, while others study the appropriation of the Veronica’s reproductions for the purpose of augmenting the appeal of the original.
The Pórtico de la Gloria (Portal of Glory), the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela’s main entrance, was created from 1168 to 1188 by Master Mateo and his workshop.