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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(725 words)

Author(s): Rebecca Leuchak
Saint Hadelinus was born in 617 in Aquitaine. As a youth, he was called to enter the monastery of Solignac in the Haute-Loire region of what was then Gaul. There he met the future saint Remaclus with whom he traveled to evangelize the north of Gaul. They landed at Cugnon on the Semois river and founded there a new Christian community and were welcomed by the Merovingian king Sigebert III. In 669, Hadelinus entered a religious community at Celles and served as spiritual advisor to Pepin of Herstal. Hadelinus died on February 3, 690, and was buried at the monastery of Celles. According to a colleg…

Hagiography, Local History, Theology

(618 words)

Author(s): Virginia Brilliant
The integration of hagiography, local history, and theology into the iconography of reliquaries is chiefly a later medieval practice; few early reliquaries emphasize these themes. Enamel shrines made in Limoges in the 1100s and 1200s were perhaps the first substantial group to deploy scenes from saints’ lives, although fundamental were scenes of saints’ dramatic deaths, mainly to the exclusion of other events. Both Thomas Becket and Valeria were extremely popular saints for Limoges enamellers, with Becket caskets enjoying an international export market while Valeria caskets were purchased chiefly by the local population. In Italy, following the unprecedented and extraordinarily exhaustive fresco cycle devoted to scenes of the life of St Francis of Assisi in San Francesco at Assisi (ca. 1300), reliquaries devoted to both established and newer saints incorporated extended pictorial hagiographies into their decorations. Those for new saints familiarized local audiences and visiting pilgrims alike with their perhaps not entirely well-known biographies and miracles, and promoted their cults. New reliquaries housing remains of established saints revitalized the importance of, and encouraged further devotion to, these saints through th…


(2,284 words)

Author(s): Mushegh Asatryan
Hajj was the pilgrimage to Mecca that originated among the pre-Islamic pagan Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula. After the emergence of Islam, it was transformed into one of the main religious obligations, required of every able Muslim at least once in his or her life. Even those unable to go might send someone in their stead; the Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta, who visited Damascus in the first half of the fourteenth century, wrote in his memoirs that there were special “…


(354 words)

Author(s): Emily Price
Part of the traditional pilgrim costume was a shallow-browed hat of wool or straw, secured with two strings fastening under the chin, and particularly characterized by a broad, upturned brim. Pilgrim guidebooks advised the wearing of a hat against the sun and harsh weather. Hats also served to display pilgrim badges. An example of a pilgrim’s hat survives from sixteenth-century Nuremberg: the hat is of black wool felt, and has a wide front brim to which many scallop shells and other badges were …

Hazards of Pilgrimage

(1,288 words)

Author(s): Andrew Holt
Medieval European pilgrims often faced enormous challenges while seeking to fulfill their pilgrimage vows. Although the spiritual benefits of a pilgrimage motivated countless penitents throughout medieval Europe, such benefits often came with an equally dear price. As pilgrims set out on lengthy journeys into sometimes foreign lands, they were often poorly equipped to deal with the hazards of brigands, thieves, hunger, thirst, sickness, and the various physical injuries that often resulted from …

Healing and Relapse

(801 words)

Author(s): Julie Orlemanski
A surprising number of the miracles documented at medieval shrines exhibit a partial or relative character that jars against modern understandings of both 'miracle' and 'cure' (see also Miracles of Healing). A miraculously healed petitioner might walk with crutches rather than being completely lame, or could discover that a skin condition cleared up, only to have it return upon arriving home. Rather than being spectacular and absolute, the miracles of healing preserved in medieval records freque…


(904 words)

Author(s): Gerhard Lutz
According to a later legend, the miraculous treasure, the Heiltumsschatz at Andechs, can be traced back to Earl Rasso, who brought important relics from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the tenth century and dedicated it to his foundation, the monastery of Grafrath north of the Ammersee in Upper Bavaria. Afterwards the monks moved to Andechs with the relics, the later castle of the influential dynasty of the Andechs-Meranier. The treasure was further enriched by the Earls of Dießen, who donated the principal relic, the "Three Holy Hosts." The legend establishes…