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.

Subscriptions: See Brill.com

Fabulous or Imaginative Pilgrimages

(2,095 words)

Author(s): Daniel P. Terkla
Imaginative travel accounts, particularly quest narratives, are a staple of medieval literature. All such tales, including those of pilgrimage, are built upon the generic-level metaphor, life is a journey (see also Homo Viator). These narratives, whether sacred or secular, rely upon a set of conventions that date to antiquity and include: the mentor/guide and naïve mentee/student pair; experiential learning via adventure and hardship; testing of the naïf, literal and figurative border crossing; …


(743 words)

Author(s): Wendell Johnson
During the medieval era, fairs represented one of the most important forms of economic activity in Europe. Fairs evolved out of local markets and were held along pilgrimage routes, quite often where uplands intersected with lowlands, and near where pilgrims congregated for religious festivals. (See also Trade and Pilgrimage). The primary function of fairs was the promotion of trade, and historically, they were created to solve probl…

False Pilgrims

(984 words)

Author(s): Martin Leigh Harrison
In an era that considered almost any sort of spiritual travel, literal or figurative, to be a pilgrimage, it is hard to imagine what a false pilgrim could be. Early modern reformers such as Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, and Thomas More were quick to call pilgrimages 'false,' given the distasteful adoration of relics and pecuniary benefit to shrines that such journeys seemed to entail, solidifying into a more widespread view the unease with which some in the Middle Ages had viewed pilgrimage…


(781 words)

Author(s): Whitney Ellen Huey
During the sixth century, Irish missionaries began to impose pilgrimages as penance for a variety of sins. (See also Penitential Pilgrimage). These pilgrimages often incorporated other penitential practices along the way to destinations such as Rome and Jerusalem. These could either be self-imposed or they could be imposed by the clerics who approved the pilgrimage. Fasting was one of the many forms of penance practiced by pilgrims while on their way to shrines. It also served the purpose of bri…


(901 words)

Author(s): Melanie Hanan
The Saint Felix reliquary was made probably around 1090 when the relics of Felix of Bilibium were translated to the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla. This reliquary, similar to the Saint Aemilian reliquary located at the same monastery, was most likely a silver gilt casket with narrative ivory plaques. It is no longer intact but remnants of six ivory plaques survive. Prudencio de Sandoval described the Felix reliquary in 1601, but it was a reconstruction of the eleventh-century one and date…

Felix Fabri

(1,700 words)

Author(s): Dorothea R. French
Fabri, Felix (c.1441-1502) Friar Felix Fabri (or F.F.F. as he called himself) was born in Zürich of a noble family by the name of Schmidt. He was brought up in a Dominican convent at Basel and while still a young man joined the Dominican convent at Ulm c. 1453-54 where he resided until his death. Fabri is the author of a three-volume Latin account of pilgrimages he took to Jerusalem in 1480 and 1483 entitled Evagatorium in Terrae Sanctae, Arabiae et Egypti peregrinationem (1494); a two-volume encomium of Ulm, his adopted city, entitled Tractatus de Civitae Ulmensi (1488-1489), a Historia Suev…


(915 words)

Author(s): Fiona Harris-Stoerz
When medieval couples had difficulty conceiving healthy offspring, they often asked saints for help. Not only could sterility mean the end of a family line, but it sometimes brought shame and scorn from family and neighbors. A woman in 1404, eventually healed by Dorothy of Montau, reported prolonged abuse from her family after she failed to conceive again for five years after a difficult first birth. (See also Women Pilgrims, Children and Pilgrims, and Childbirth and Pilg…