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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(876 words)

Author(s): Brenda Gardenour
Miraculous lactation has precedence in the martyrologies, in which the moment of death is marked not only by the flow of blood but also by the changing of this blood to milk: lac pro sanguine. As he awaits his martyrdom, Saint Christopher tells his persecutor that, as proof of the power of Christ, his innocent blood applied to blind eyes will cure them. To this end, the tyrant anoints his ailing eyes with Christopher's blood and is healed. (See also Blindness). The miraculous power of blood is directly linked to the thaumaturgic…


(799 words)

Author(s): Sarah Gordon
Lameness, or loss of mobility in one or more limbs, today referred to as physical impairment or disability, was among the more common motivations for pilgrimage. The Christian tradition of miraculous restoration of physical mobility has roots in the Gospels, where Jesus cured these ailments (see for example Matthew 15:30). As in the cases of blindness and deafness, for those suffering from physical impairment in the Middle Ages, pilgrimage and the resulting miracles were perceived as the best ho…

Late Medieval French Pilgrimage Narratives

(2,633 words)

Author(s): Anne-Sophie De Franceschi
In chronological order, the earliest of the pilgrimage writers considered here was actually Netherlandish although he wrote in French. He made several abortive attempts to go to the Holy Land, which indicate some of the considerable difficulties would-be pilgrims faced in this period.  Apparently born in 1474, Jean de Zeilbecke or Jean Taccoen was lord of Zillebecke, a village in the neighborhood of Ypres. He left a work in manuscript, Recueil d’itinéraires, voyage à Saint-Jacques, 1512, now in the Bibliothèque municipale de Douai, ms. 793. In 1499, he received a safe-conduct to…

Late Medieval German Pilgrimage Narratives

(2,596 words)

Author(s): Albrecht Classen
The Holy Land became a major goal for European pilgrimages especially after the fall of the last Christian fortress, Acre, in 1291 to the Muslims, which did not leave the Europeans any other option but to travel peacefully to the desired pilgrimage sites. These tours were normally well organized by Venetian agents who mostly controlled the eastern Mediterranean and had set up regular shipping routes for religious travelers and others simply driven by their curiosity. Many of the pilgrims, or rel…


(924 words)

Author(s): Thomas Izbicki
Accounts of Lawrence's martyrdom vary (see also Martyrs); but he is associated with Pope Saint Sixtus II (257-258), who was martyred, probably by beheading, during the persecution by the Emperor Valerian or his son Gallienus. Lawrence, a deacon, and four companions were executed four days later. He was believed to have been beheaded at a location outside the Porta Salaria. Stories that grew around Lawrence displaced his martyrdom, like that of Sixtus, to the reign of Decius. (Valerian was descri…

Legendary Presents of Charlemagne

(1,482 words)

Author(s): Laurence Terrier Aliferis
Several objects coming from different abbeys were reportedly given by Charlemagne. We can observe that this phenomenon spread during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. At the same time, some abbeys used Charlemagne as a tutelary figure and claimed to have been founded by the emperor. The actual founders, such as Louis the Pious or Charles the Bold, thus lost their importance to a reputedly much more glorious figure. To make theses foundations legitimate, the abbeys didn't hesitate to create nar…


(360 words)

Author(s): Jorge Abril Sánchez
The seizure of León by King Ordoño I of Asturias around 850 signals the beginning of the religious primacy of the Castilian city. This preeminence was confirmed by King Ordoño II of León, who made it the capital of the Leonese Kingdom in 914. Repopulated by Mozarabs, León became a way station for Christian pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela or Oviedo. The massive arrival of devotees during the eleventh century influenced its urban development. Pilgrims entered the city by the suburb of the Saint Sepulcher, in which Doña Urraca, Infanta of Castile, had ordere…


(830 words)

Author(s): Julie Orlemanski
Leprosy has often been regarded as a quintessentially medieval pathology, and the figure of the medieval leper is one entwined with images of pilgrimage (see also Illness Miracles). The healing of leprosi at medieval shrines was perceived as a particularly powerful miracle, both because of the symbolic associations of the disease with sin and because in contemporary medical opinion, leprosy was an incurable condition. Leprosaria, or medieval leper houses, were frequently constructed along popular pilgrimage routes in order to capitalize on the charity of dev…

Le Puy

(927 words)

Author(s): Kathy Gower
Le Puy lies about 325 miles south of Paris on the site of Mount Anis, a volcanic peak on the Vélay plain in the Auvergne. "Puy" means volcanic mountain and the city is surrounded by them. Mount Anis, or Corneille Rock had long been a site of pre-Christian worship, first as a Celtic, then Roman pagan site. It is the location of a miraculous spring sacred for thousands of years. In the first century CE it was dedicated to a local god and the emperor Augustus, and was the home of the Pierre des Fièvres, or Fever Rock, part of a group of huge standing stones that form…