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


(744 words)

Author(s): Sarah Blick
Chains were popular votive gifts from pilgrims, symbolic of the freeing of prisoners. (See also Freeing of Prisoners). Such chains were sometimes brought to shrines by former prisoners who found they had been miraculously broken through a saint's intercession. They were also sometimes imposed judicially or taken on voluntarily during a penitential pilgrimage. In this example of penitential practices, the pilgrimages of the penitent were intended to be continuous until the chains fell off, a repr…

Charlemagne in Architecture

(943 words)

Author(s): Laurence Terrier Aliferis
Starting at the end of the eleventh century, monumental works in a large number of churches represented Charlemagne. As a model pilgrim and crusader, the association of his cult with both medieval ideals was strong, and his reputation for acquiring many relics furthered the links between him and the cults that led pilgrims on their quests. Under his reign, numerous abbeys were established and posterity conserves his memory as a founder. As several texts attest, many churches created their founda…

Chartres Cathedral

(1,801 words)

Author(s): James Bugslag
The nature of the pilgrimage experience at Chartres was fundamentally fixed by Bishop Fulbert, (1006-28), who had the cathedral rebuilt after a fire in 1020. Consecrated in 1037, it took the double form of an upper and a lower church of huge size. The upper church was a basilica, with an ambulatory and three large radiating chapels (see Hilberry, 'Cathedral'). This plan is an early example of a new form of pilgrimage church that received canonical definition along the pilgrimage roads to Santiag…

Chartreuse de Champmol

(812 words)

Author(s): Laura Gelfand
The Chartreuse de Champmol was a Carthusian Monastery built outside of Dijon by Philip the Bold (1342-1404) and his wife Margaret of Flanders (1350-1405). Margaret laid the foundation's first stone in 1383 and was the family representative at the dedication ceremony in 1388. The monastic foundation was intended to serve as a monument to and a mausoleum for the Valois Dukes of Burgundy. In addition to housing the tombs of Philip the Bold and Margaret, the foundation was the final resting place fo…

Châsses, Feretories, Bourses, Caskets, and Coffrets

(386 words)

Author(s): Melanie Hanan
Casket, or box-shaped, reliquaries were the oldest form of Christian reliquary and the most prevalent until c. 1200. They could be placed in or upon altars, incorporated into shrines, and carried in processions. Usually made of metalwork, they ranged from palm-sized to coffin-sized. Four different medieval shapes existed. Flat caskets were small, four-sided or oval boxes with flat lids, for example the St Andrew reliquary from Siegburg. 'Truhen' caskets such as the Pelagius reliquary in León, Sp…

Childbirth and Pilgrimage

(926 words)

Author(s): Fiona Harris-Stoerz
Men and women throughout the Middle Ages undertook pilgrimages to request offspring, ensure safe pregnancies and births, cure pregnancy-related health problems, and give thanks for successful outcomes. (See also Children and Pilgrims). Childbirth miracles often occurred at home, rather than at shrines of saints, especially in the high and later Middle Ages when vows to saints from a distance became more common. (See also Vows). Childbirth emergencies tended to be sudden, and by their nature ofte…

Children and Pilgrims

(1,594 words)

Author(s): Sharon Farmer
Our evidence for children's involvement with medieval pilgrimage comes principally from the miracle collections that were recorded at shrines, and from canonization inquests concerning the posthumous miracles that were performed by the relics of potential saints. Most of the children who appeared in these stories were the beneficiaries of miraculous cures and resurrections. (See also Miracles and Injury and Illness Miracles). Medieval children were extremely vulnerable to mortality, disease, and…

Child Saints

(1,473 words)

Author(s): William MacLehose
To understand the connections between children and medieval pilgrimage, we must first consider the significance of childhood to medieval culture. Contrary to what some scholars have argued, childhood was a privileged category in the medieval Christian world, and was often associated with purity, innocence, truth, and virginity. Biblical pronouncement, particularly the words of Christ himself (for example, "unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven," Matthew 18.3…

Church of Sainte-Foy, Conques

(860 words)

Author(s): Laurence Terrier Aliferis
The name Conques derives from the Latin word concha (shell). A hermit named Dadon isolated himself there at the beginning of the ninth century. Rapidly, other monks gathered around him and they built a church dedicated to the Holy Savior. In 866, the monks of Conques tried to get a holy relic and stole the body of St. Foy ( Fides) of Agen, martyred at the age of twelve under the emperor Maximilian (286-305). At first, the monks had tried to steal the holy relic of St Vincent but without success. Consequently, St Foy became the patron of Conques and the p…

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth

(854 words)

Author(s): Doron Bauer
The Annunciation church in Nazareth was one of the three most important medieval pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land. The two others, the Church of the Nativity and the Holy Sepulcher, still preserve substantial medieval architectural components and works of art. In contrast, the severely damaged church of the Annunciation was completely rebuilt in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the reconstruction of the church was preceded by a series of thorough archaeological excavations of which the most important o…

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

(929 words)

Author(s): Anastasia Keshman
The Holy Sepulchre church is one of the most important medieval buildings and pilgrimage destinations. Considered the center of the Christian universe, it commemorates the founding events of the Christian faith -- the crucifixion, the death, the entombment, and the resurrection of Christ. The Holy Sepulchre complex (see also Holy Land Romanesque Architecture) was built primarily for protection and veneration of the places identified as Calvary and the tomb of Christ. At the time of the Second Temple, both Golgotha and the cemetery were s…

Cluniac Promotion of Pilgrimage

(965 words)

Author(s): Martin Leigh Harrison
Monks belonging to the Benedictine Order, as at the monastery of Cluny (est. c. 910) represented the widest attested form of regular (or rule-based) religious life in the Latin West. The rule under which the order chose to operate (set down by Benedict of Nursia, abbot of Monte Cassino in the sixth century) made firm provisions for almost all aspects of monks’ daily spiritual and practical lives, including travel. It explicitly enjoined them to maintain stabilitas loci - a concept to which the idea of pilgrimage might seem antithetical - avoiding the emulation of those …


(874 words)

Author(s): Amanda Bahr-Evola
The French Benedictine abbey of Cluny, officially recognized as the Abbey Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Cluny, is located in Burgundy in the Rhone Valley. There have been three churches on the site, the first two destroyed in the tenth century and the final church, known as Cluny III and consecrated by Pope Urban in 1095, survived until the late eighteenth Century. Only the south arm of the western transept remains of the original structure, although the site has been excavated and reconstr…