Colum Hourihane

title.none: Blick and Tekippe, eds., Art and Architecture (Colum Hourihane)

identifier.other: baj9928.0609.022 06.09.22

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Colum Hourihane, Index of Christian Art, Princeton University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2006

identifier.citation: Blick, Sarah, and Rita Tekippe, eds. Art and Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage in Northern Europe and the British Isles, 2 vols. (Vol. 1 Text, Vol. 2 Plates). Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions: History, Culture, Religion, Ideas, vol. 104. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2005. Pp. xxxii, 876; xl, 348. $498.00 90-04-12332-6. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 06.09.22

Blick, Sarah, and Rita Tekippe, eds. Art and Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage in Northern Europe and the British Isles, 2 vols. (Vol. 1 Text, Vol. 2 Plates). Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions: History, Culture, Religion, Ideas, vol. 104. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2005. Pp. xxxii, 876; xl, 348. $498.00 90-04-12332-6. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Colum Hourihane
Index of Christian Art, Princeton University

Having recently traveled along some of the pilgrimage route through much of France and northern Spain I was immediately transported back to the Middle Ages, not by the landscape which has undoubtedly changed but by the fervor and zeal of the many pilgrims who still make this journey. It made me think of the all consuming passion and necessity this must have been in the medieval period and how important a role it must have occupied for the believer. It is a subject that has been studied many times from a religious, social, historical and art historical perspective but not with the same scope of this current publication. This two volume corpus (one extremely thick and the other relatively thin) of course covers more than the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain (the route that I took) and includes, even though the title does not admit it, a significant coverage either directly or indirectly of the equally important sites of Rome and Jerusalem. Much to its credit it also brings together some of the other and relatively under studied pilgrimage sites in Northern Europe. It has to be realized, however, that even with a title like this and a stellar cast of scholars it does not and could not cover many of the lesser known and more localised sites. It is an eclectic collection of essays but unlike so many other corpora, all of the authors appear to stick relatively closely to the general theme and there are very few if any essays that diverge from the subject (of the volume). It also nice to see so many of the essays contributing original material and not rehashing the existing. It is a credit to the editors and authors to have managed such a task. These two authors have dedicated much of their scholarship to the subject of pilgrimage and have extended the subject of this book with an online journal devoted to the subject of pilgrimage (Peregrinations) as well as a fine website that also unites scholarship on this theme (International Society for the Study of Pilgrimage Art) (see

The twenty seven chapters in this collection are arranged under seven general themes, all of which one way or another justify such divisions although it might have been possible to rationalize some of these sections. The twenty-seven essays or chapters as they are called in the book are arranged under seven catchall headings starting with "The Pilgrim's Journey: Vision and Reality," "Housing for the Saint: Churches and Shrines," "Experience and Iconography at Pilgrimage Centers: Discerning Meaning," "Connections to Jerusalem and the Holy Jerusalem through Pilgrimage Sites," "Pilgrim Souvenirs: Meaning and Function," "Common Cause for Medieval Christians: Politics and Practicalities of Cult Development," and ending with "Cults and Cult Practices: Evolution and Expression."

Each of these divisions has three to four essays. It is impossible to select any single essay from this collection as the quality is uniformly of a high standard. Minor concessions have to be made for one or two of the authors whose native language is clearly not English but this is a trivial criticism. The title is misleading in that "late medieval" is used with reference to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and not to the standard fourteenth and fifteenth centuries with which we normally associate these terms. The coverage is broad and includes a variety of media, countries and periods but there is a major emphasis on France of the twelfth and thirteenth-centuries. The "Northern Europe" of the title is not as encyclopedic as one would expect. Any of these essays could have followed the editors' general introduction but for whatever reason the section which looks at painting as a medium begins the book, possibly because three of the essays deal with what could genuinely be called the late medieval period.

With the slightly contrived section heading of "The Pilgrims Journey: Vision and Reality" we have four essays which look at pilgrims' clothing (Anja Grebe), Han's Memling's works (Vida J. Hull and Jeanne Neuchterlein) and a case study of late medieval architecture and its relationship to pilgrimage (Claire Labreque). These essays set the focus for the entire collection which is finely and successfully balanced between the material evidence and the spiritual enrichment and experience of the pilgrim. We move from what the pilgrim may have worn in Anja Grebe's detailed essay to the fine analysis of the spiritual journey that could have been undertaken in Memling's works as analyzed by Vida J. Hull and Jeanne Neuchterlein. The latter two essays show us what is clearly a theme in a number of essays in this volume--the mental pilgrim versus the actual. It was clearly outside of the realm of possibilities for many to actually undertake a journey to the Holy Land and yet it may have been possible through the act of contemplation, meditation and spirituality as Memling's works may have intended. These works may have provided the pilgrim with the possibility to travel in space without ever having moved physically. The fourth essay in this section is one of many case studies in the volume and in this instance Claire Labreque looks at the architecture of the St.-Spirit Chapel at Rue. She shows how even today the pilgrim was given a little more than the general worshipper. It is not simply the clothing which Anja Grebe analyzed as being a unique identifier of the pilgrim but the enlightened and spiritually charged attitude that enriched the experience that awaited them at this chapel in Picardy.

The second section "Housing for Saints: Churches and Shrines" has three essays which are more focused in that they look at architecture of the worshipper and the worshipped. Albert Lemeunier begins one of several case studies on the shrine, this time on the relatively unknown Mosan shrines of Sts. Mengoldus and Domitianus. Although in need of some editing this study details the historiography of these two shrines especially in the post-medieval period and shows how the twin approaches of conserving and restoring dictated the approach to their repairs. The following essay by Ilana Abend-David on the Heribert Shrine continues the theme of metalwork and the pilgrim and this time it looks at what was undoubtedly a very important aspect to the medieval pilgrim as indeed it is today and that is the financial benefits that developed around the ritual. It seems even today to be a significant factor in the many small towns along the route to Santiago which, although particularly kind to the pilgrim, also depend to a certain extent on the income that this practice generates. We have countless visual reminders on the churches along the route to Santiago of the financial and emotional dangers that could befall the pilgrim from those who preyed on the gains that could be made. Even more significant in the medieval period was the revenue that was accrued by the church from the pilgrim. Whether we like it or not pilgrimage also has to be seen as the source of significant income for the Church and this lies at the core of Ilana Abend-David's essay where she analyses in detail the possible purpose behind the creation of this shrine against the perilous financial status of the abbey of Deutz in the twelfth century. In a finely crafted study it details the priority given to this shrine and the all consuming (even deceitful) ends to which the abbey went to get the cult of St. Heribert promoted. The concluding essay in this chapter, one of the longest and most detailed in the volume is by Jim Bugslag and is the first to look at Chartres Cathedral. In what is clearly destined to be a pivotal study in the history of that cathedral he lays the groundwork for future research in his belief that the building is not simply another fine Gothic cathedral but instead has to be looked at anew from the perspective of the pilgrim. His separation of the building into two churches, each of which has their own underlying characteristics and functions will I am sure help us to unravel the complexities of this Marian structure in the future.

The third section in many ways continues the focus on the iconography of pilgrimage with an essay by William Travis on the Emmaus capital at Autun which he broadens out into a fine analysis of the general theme. He shows how the microscopic reflects the general in a holistic survey of text, image, style and purpose. Celia Gaposchin's essay on the inclusion of Saints Firmin and Honoré in the tympana at Amiens which was started in the 1220's is again an iconographic study on the importance of the local figure and how they were reflected in other media. Her convincing analysis of the theology and purpose behind these figures shows them to have been significant in the procession route in the cathedral and to have also been a significant mediating force between the past and present. Anne Harris's essay on the stained glass at Canterbury cathedral continues the focus on performance and pilgrimage as found in that medium. This essay moves us firmly away from France which lies at the core of the majority of essays in this volume. It shows, like many of the other studies in this volume, how nearly impossible it is to separate any single object or medium from the others in these structures and how they worked in tandem on the pilgrim and general worshipper. In this case the miracle windows cleverly invited the pilgrim to contemplate the reasons for being there and defined not only purpose and experience but also physical space.

Four of the five essays in the fourth section which is dedicated to the connections between Jerusalem and the Holy-Jerusalem through pilgrimage sites are firmly based once again on French material. Daniel Connolly's opening essay on the labyrinth pavement at Chartres Cathedral goes way beyond a simple analysis and instead presents an encyclopedic study of these interesting designs, many of which are so often trampled upon and ignored by the casual visitor to these churches. In an essay which in many ways could easily have been in the previous section on performance he shows how our knowledge of these cryptic works can be extended with comparanda such as manuscripts. This essay reminded me of the spiritual journey discussed in the opening essays which never was physically undertaken but which could be recreated through these symbolic maps of Jerusalem. Nora Laos's study of the church of Neuvy-Saint-Sepulchre in central France continues the theme of Jerusalem and its recreations being the ideal for the pilgrim. The author can hardly be blamed for the inconclusiveness in her wishes to unravel the source and in many ways the purpose behind the architectural alterations to the church which were undertaken right up to the modern period and which she carefully documents. She studies the arrival and influence of relics from the Holy Land and shows how these responded along with the architecture to pilgrimage. The final essay in this section by Kelly Holbert brings us back to the purpose of so much pilgrimage-the relic itself. In this case it is a broad examination of those of the True Cross. In an expansive survey she outlines the history and forms employed to enshrine such relics up to the fifteenth century and traces the influences that the Legend of the True Cross had on the forms employed to enshrine such relics. The last essay in this section is by Stephen Lamia and looks at the tomb of Christ or Sepulchrum Domini in the art of twelfth-century France and shows how it was a motif that never gained widespread acceptance. He documents the three phases which it underwent in the art-historical repertoire and documents its general demise to a more decorative motif in the thirteenth-century. Even though the author claims that the article is a study in failure--the failure of the motif to gain acceptance--it is a fascinating study none the less and one which shows what can be achieved with comparatively little.

No publication such as this would be complete without a study on what has surely become one of the most fashionable aspects of pilgrimage--a study of the "souvenirs" associated with the ritual. It is the best known of these souvenirs, the pilgrim badge, which opens this fifth section of the publication. The form and iconography of these badges is dealt with by Marike de Kroon in the first of five essays. It is one bookend of this section with another essay by Jos Koldeweij on obscene badges as parodies of devotion, ending it. The pilgrim, like most of us, gathered objects such as these while on their travels and they have survived in significant numbers. Small in size, they were long overlooked and seen as mass produced objects (which of course they were) with little art-historical interest. Mercifully, this has now been overcome with studies such as these which highlight their social, historical and religious value. Most of this research has been undertaken in the Low Countries from where many of the badges come so it is no surprise that the first essay comes from a Dutch scholar. Marike de Kroon who shows just how valuable they can be in tracing the movement of motifs and people and ends with a plea for greater research into them. This plea is answered by another Dutch scholar, Jos Koldeweij, who writes on one sub-set of the large corpus that has survived and which continues to be added to on a daily basis. He looks at badges with obscene imagery which he sees as a parody of popular devotion. In many ways they remind me of some of the imagery found on misericords which also reflect the anti-liturgical. This is an essay which provides us with an alternative and contrasting appraisal of the pilgrim in the other studies. Whereas the majority of these essays justifiably evaluate the pilgrim in adulatory terms these badges may provide us with an alternative and less salubrious image which is also found in the sculpture of the period. There can be little doubt of the pivotal importance that Thomas a Becket plays in medieval pilgrimage in England and this is highlighted in Sarah Blick's fine study on his shrine which was destroyed in the late summer of 1538. Using the available evidence which is largely drawn from pilgrim badges she carefully reconstructs it and shows it to have been well within the stylistic framework of comparable monuments. Ampullae were another popular form of pilgrimage souvenir which originated with the enshrinement of Christ's tear but which were later to be widely dispersed as souvenirs. This nicely paced article by Katja Boeertjes looks at the original and its replication in terms of form, iconography, function and ritual. The final essay in this section appraises the material dealt with in the other studies in its analysis of one of the few surviving textual sources that details the importance of badges and other souvenirs. This text known as the Miracula Sancti Thomas Cantuariensis details the miracles ascribed to this saint and analyses the many references to ampullae and badges that are liberally found. Written in the late twelfth-century, Jennifer Lee details the way these souvenirs changed in response to their meaning and uses the Miraculi Sancti Thomas as supporting evidence. It is study which nicely unites text and object.

Cults and pilgrimage did not happen by accident and it is clear as a number of the other essays have shown that many were contrived and developed for political and financial ends. This is an undercurrent which permeates a number of these essays and nowhere more than in the four that are found in the next section. This opens with Kristen Van Ausdall's study on the Host-Miracle Shrines at Orvieto and Wilsnack. This is a deft study which unites the sanctioned and papally approved to the more controversial and "unofficial." Surrounding both and undoubtedly influencing the perception of the pilgrim was the way in which the shrines were translated and presented and the legitimacy of the work in relation to what was experienced. This same theme is continued in Virginia Blanton's essay on Ely and the cult of Saint Aethelthryth. This looks at the success or lack of it that surrounds the efforts of Bishop Hugh de Northwold's building program in thirteenth-century Ely to develop the cult of this saint. It is a complex tale that centers on the relationship of church and state as personified through two important figures. Laura Gelfan's study moves the reader away from the formal cult of relics into Chartreuse de Champmol--a site that had no formal relics and which was dependant on other means to engage the pilgrim. Using the resources to hand, such as indulgences and images of the Dukes of Valois, the pilgrim was encouraged to respond to devotional programs that are outside of the usual. The long essay which ends this section brings the reader back once again to the Host-Miracle churches in Germany. In a stimulating essay, Mitchell Merback details the formation of "collective identity" through pilgrimage and its influence in Bavaria in the centuries leading up to the Reformation. It details the many ways in which the power of the relics were transferred to the pilgrims, engaging the religious as well as the personal.

The concluding section of the volume looks at how cults developed and evolved (not that these themes were ignored elsewhere in the volume!). The two essays that begin and end this section look at the iconography of the shrine. Benoît Van den Bossche opens with the iconography of the Rheno-Mosan chasses of the thirteenth century in which he shows how intellectualism was lost at the expense of emotional force in their iconography as they responded to pilgrimage and its needs. The two German shrines studied by Lisa Victoria Ciresi in the concluding essay are slightly later in date and equally complex in their programs. In an insightful holistic analysis of these works she places them firmly in the political and religious world in which they were created and shows the importance of looking at how they related liturgically to their surrounds. In between these two we have two further studies, the first of which, written by Scott Montgomery is on the Xylographic book of Saint Servatius of Mastricht. This mid-fifteenth century printed book has twenty-four pages each of which has a woodcut, the last four of which detail the relics of this saint. This structured and interesting essay shows us how the pilgrim would have relived and extended the actual visit with the aid of such a manual. Rita Tekippe's article attempts to relate procession and pilgrimage--the distinction between which she sometimes describes as being blurred. Using the visual, the liturgical and many other elements associated with these two rituals she convincingly shows them in a nicely structured argument to be worthy of further research. There are excellent indices and a bibliography that has to be commended for its coverage.

Even after puzzling over the organizational arrangement of this volume--which really is a minor detail--I am now more than convinced that it was necessary. In many ways it reflects the size of the topic and the need to impose some structure on it--not that I always agree with what was chosen! Although it may seem at times that these essays attribute an importance to the cult of pilgrimage that was all pervasive and consuming, the studies are focused and have to be seen in relation to the broader panoply of medieval life and the reader constantly needs to make themselves aware of this. Pilgrimage did not dominate all medieval life although one could be forgiven for thinking that it did after reading this book. Nevertheless, it did occupy a significant role in the life of the Christian with repercussions felt in every aspect of the medieval world. It is not a criticism of the book that the reader is likely to get deeply involved in these essays but a complement to the editors and authors who engagingly write on their subjects with such conviction and belief. Despite the excessive price of the publication (nearly five hundred dollars) it is destined to be the standard reference work on this subject for many years to come and will I am sure awaken the interest of many in the subject. Everyone but especially the two editors deserve congratulations on a benchmark study.