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  • Art and Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage in Northern Europe and the British Isles
  • Kathryn M. Rudy
Sarah Blick and Rita Tekippe , eds. Art and Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage in Northern Europe and the British Isles. 2 vols. Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions: History, Culture, Religion, Ideas 104. Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2005. xxxii + 876 pp. + 348 b/w pls. index. illus. bibl. $399. ISBN: 90–04–12332–6.

The twenty-seven essays in this immense two-volume, 1,000-page tome each present a case study of the interaction between the visual arts and the phenomenally widespread and tenacious practice of religious pilgrimage in the late Middle Ages. These ambitious volumes point to the great deal of interest in the field of pilgrimage arts. Part of this interest has been generated by the volumes' editors, who have regularly sponsored sessions at Kalamazoo since 1999 and now issue an online journal, Peregrinations.

The volumes do not aim to be comprehensive, but the methodologically diverse essays have much to say on the arts of pilgrimage, which, in broad terms, include objects that shaped pilgrims' experiences, objects given or sold to pilgrims as souvenirs, and objects that help armchair travelers to construct imagined pilgrimages. With much interpenetration among these categories, most of the essays fall into the first category.

Several studies present close analyses of shrines housing relics, the visitation of which constituted the goal of pilgrimage. Benoît Van den Bossche and Albert Lemeunier both analyze Mosan Châsses, and Ilana Abend-David studies the iconography of the Heribert Shrine, a twelfth-century reliquary in the Abbey of Deutz. Jeanne Nuechterlein also considers the iconography of Hans Memling's [End Page 246] Shrine of Saint Ursula, whose painted sides represent a pilgrimage to Rome, while Lisa Victoria Ciresi takes on the Aachen Karlsschrein and Marienschrein, considering them in light of Aachen's liturgy. Scott Montgomery reads the xylographic book of St. Servatius of Maastricht as a relic display. Kristen Van Ausdall relates the Italian host-miracle legend from Orvieto with a German shrine at Wilsnack, sites of controversy about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. These themes reappear in Mitchell B. Merback's contribution, which treats German host-miracle churches.

Architecture as a bearer of memory and meaning looms large as a theme. In a methodologically innovative essay, Claire Labrecque studies the relationship between Rogier van der Weyden's paintings and the St.-Esprit Chapel at Rue. James Bugslag, discussing pilgrimage to Chartres, and differentiating the hoi polloi — who came as a response to ergot poisoning and were tightly controlled — from the lavishly-welcomed noble travelers, who left elaborate oblations to give thanks for the Virgin's military intercessions. Contextualizing pilgrimage architecture from a political angle, Virginia Blanton analyzes the Presbytery of St. Æthelthryth, and Laura Gelfand unveils the secular goals of the Valois dukes and duchesses who built and maintained the Chartreuse de Champmol.

Several authors treat the imagery within churches that shaped pilgrims' experiences. William J. Travis considers the visual images and the linguistic meaning of peregrinus — used to describe Christ as a stranger on the road to Emmaus — at the Emmaus Capital at Saint-Lazare of Autun. Anne F. Harris showcases the stained-glass windows at Canterbury Cathedral, and, like Bugslag, considers the multiple classes of pilgrims who visited.

Partially fuelled by a large project at the University of Nijmegen under the leadership of Jos Koldeweij to document lead-tin pilgrimage badges (now posted as a searchable database: http:\\\ckd\kunera), a group of essays takes such badges as their primary visual material. Koldeweij himself contributes a saucy article about obscene badges that parody religious processions. Katja Boertjes and Marike de Kroon treat more conventional badges, although the selections and methodology of the latter are puzzling. Like badges, Pieces of the True Cross functioned as both souvenirs and as material remains of a shrine, as Kelly M. Holbert remarks in her thoughtful essay, "Relics and Reliquaries of the True Cross."

Several articles treat imagined pilgrimages to Jerusalem as structured through images and architecture. Vida J. Hull fleshes out some ideas she published previously about Memling's...


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pp. 246-248
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Archived 2009
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