Journeys of Relics in Tenth to Twelfth Century Northern France and Flanders

The social importance of saints’ relics during the European Middle Ages is well documented, yet relics have rarely been treated as mobile objects beyond discussions of their transportation from one permanent location to another (a “translation”).

The dissertation "Bringing Out the Saints: Journeys of Relics in Tenth to Twelfth Century Northern France and Flanders" by Kate Melissa Craig (University of California, Los Angeles, 2015) examines the practice of taking relics on out-and-back journeys to explore the consequences of temporarily removing these objects from the churches in which they were housed and displayed, focusing on northern France and the Low Countries during the high Middle Ages.

Medieval relics were considered direct conduits to the supernatural power of the saints, and an itinerant relic projected religious, economic, and political authority onto the areas it traveled through.
However, travel also brought a relic into contact with unfamiliar audiences. Using evidence from customaries, hagiography, charters, and images, Kate Melissa demonstrates that while moving relics transformed them into versatile tools of power, it also exposed them to criticism, antagonism, and danger from both lay and ecclesiastical groups (...).

Click here to read this dissertation from the University of California – Los Angeles.This blog quotes the first part of a paper with the same title on Illustration from the same source.

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