Jobs/Jul 29, 2015

Local Sanctity in the Global Middle Ages: The Material Promotion of New Saints c. 1000–1250

Local Sanctity in the Global Middle Ages: The Material Promotion of New Saints c. 1000–1250, Session at 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 12–15, 2016

Saints’ cults and canonizations had the potential to stimulate dynamic cultural and artistic turning points for their institutions. While such cults have been studied as separate phenomena for individual sites, shrines, and saints, or approached with more comprehensive questions of contemporary piety and religion, this session will address moments of artistic and material responses to the development of local saints. New saints or relics as well as revitalized cults had fundamental consequences for each place, seen in streams of pilgrims or rising revenues for local institutions, subsequent building campaigns and new furnishings for the churches. Canonizations or the recollection of ancient traditions and relics were also often the result of a spiritual flourishing (re)focusing on the history of individual institutions, cathedral chapters as well as monastic communities. There are numerous prominent examples of the promotion of local sanctity for the period from the 11th to the middle of the 13th century, including Bernward and Godehard of Hildesheim, Charlemagne in Aachen, or Elisabeth of Marburg.

The sessions will also seek to explore the tension between local and global concerns: What outside forces and developments were contributing to this turn inward to „hometown“ saints? In the construction of the new, local saint, what material elements are included or referenced in books, shrines, and reliquaries to evoke a connection to Rome and the Holy Land? And to what degree do local artifacts come to stand for the site’s holy past? More broadly, papers should discuss questions such as: What happened in the context of the canonization of a saint, the advent of relics, and their flourishing veneration in and around the medieval church? How was the development of a given cult marked by significant building campaigns, changes of liturgy or donations? What objects were donated and what do we know about their purpose and assignment?

One focus will be on manuscripts that can be related to a specific cult. How were references to previous relic cults embedded within the books’ illuminated and liturgical programs? Another topic will address the way that shrines and reliquaries demonstrate the accretive process by which a new saint was promoted in a given institution. All lines of enquiry will include a consideration of the religious life at each site, the use and setting of the objects, the interplay of local and global concerns, and the intellectual and religious background of the donors and institutions that produced these objects.

Kristen Collins, J. Paul Getty Museum
Gerhard Lutz, Dommuseum Hildesheim