Encyclopedia of Medieval Pilgrimage

Get access Subject: History
Edited by: Larissa J. Taylor et al.

The Encyclopedia of Medieval Pilgrimage is an interdisciplinary reference work, giving wide coverage of the role of travel in medieval religious life. Dealing with the period 300-1500 A.D., it offers both basic data on as broad a range of European pilgrimage as possible and clearly written, self-contained introductions to the general questions of pilgrimage research.

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(925 words)

Author(s): Betsy L. Chunko
Aachen (syn. French: Aix-la-Chapelle; Dutch: Aken) is a historic spa town, now city, in northwest Germany, site of the springs of Grannus. It was named after the Celtic god of healing and was later used as baths by the Romans who also built a sacred well and sanctuary there. It is best known for the palace complex of Carolingian buildings, most notably the Palatine Chapel, c. 796-805. Pippin the Short stayed here in 765, and Charlemagne decided in the 800s to make it his preferred residence, adding at his new capital a palace and the Palatine Chapel. Built by Odo of Metz for Charlemagne, th…

Aachen Cathedral

(836 words)

Author(s): Gerhard Lutz
The minster of Aachen emerged as a major European pilgrimage attraction with the introduction of Heiltumsschauen to take place every seven years. This pilgrimage was closely related to Charlemagne. According to the local tradition, the emperor donated a major relic treasury to his palatinate chapel, among them the garment of the Virgin Mary. Charlemagne was unofficially canonized in 1165 on the initiative of Frederick Barbarossa. After the remains of Charlemagne were transferred into a new shrine in 1215, a second one was made for his relic treasury shortly a…

Abandonment of Pilgrims

(1,100 words)

Author(s): Leigh Ann Craig
Travel was exceedingly dangerous in the Middle Ages. Travelers faced challenges posed by bad roads, bad weather, warfare, banditry and piracy, illness and injury, social dislocation, and unexpected costs that drained them of all economic resources (see also Hazards of Pilgrimage, War and Pilgrimage, Peregrini, and Poor Pilgrims). Given these hazards, pilgrims were encouraged to settle their affairs and make their wills before undertaking a journey to any but the most nearby of shrines (see also …

Abbey of Cluny

(850 words)

Author(s): Nathanael Hauser osb
The Benedictine abbey church of Cluny was built three times, the first at its foundation in 910 (Cluny I), the second consecrated in 981 (Cluny II), and the third monumental church begun around 1088 (Cluny III) and substantially finished by 1109. Suppressed in 1790, almost the entire great complex has disappeared, its buildings being used as a stone quarry during the first decades of the nineteenth century. Today the structure is known by the remaining southern transept, the archeological recons…

Abbey of Saint-Denis

(1,622 words)

Author(s): Margaret Goehring
The Abbey of Saint-Denis was one of the most important pilgrimage sites in France in the Middle Ages, although its origins, like those of its name saint, are shrouded in mystery. According to legend, the first monument to be erected in honor of Saint Denis was a shrine built by a Christian woman named Catulla at the time of the saint’s martyrdom. The Vita Genovefae (c. 520) records that St Geneviève visited the tomb on a stormy night, bearing a candle that remained lit despite the fierce wind and rain, after which she persuaded the priests and bishop of Pari…

Access to Shrines

(3,527 words)

Author(s): Anna Gottschall
Activities and access within the cathedral building had a major impact on the emotional, sensual and physical responses of pilgrims, enhanced by the continuation of a journey to the spiritual focal point, the shrine of the saint (see Tilley, 'Interpreting': 10-17). The visual atmosphere established through architectural adaptations and spatial design created routes of orientation, allowing ritualization and regulation of access and behavior. Controlled space is a social construct that highlights a dichotomy between inhabitant and visitor areas of access. Cathedrals, like Ca…

Accounts of Art in Churches

(1,507 words)

Author(s): Jacqueline Leclercq-Marx
Wall painting and monumental sculpture were rarely described as such in the high Middle Ages. The same is true of ecclesiastical furnishings, which were even less often made the object of aesthetic appreciation, even if the skill of the artist was praised because of the value of the materials. As for architecture, it rarely serves as anything other than the setting for narratives of miracles or murders. This is why descriptions of works of art - including that of the architecture of St James of Compostela - contained in the fifth book of the Liber Santi Jacobi, known as the Pilgrims' Guide to …