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Reliquary of Pepin

(845 words)

Author(s): Laurence Terrier Aliferis
The reliquary of Pepin, kept in the treasury of the basilica Ste-Foy of Conques, has had this name since the nineteenth century because it was considered a gift of Pepin the Short (715-768) or Pepin II, the King of Aquitaine (839-852), to the abbey. Before this era, it was known as the Reliquary of the Circumcision because of a legendary tradition according to which Charlemagne gave the relics of the foreskin and the umbilicus of Christ in a capsa magna. This legend appeared at the beginning of the eleventh century as attested by the Liber miraculorum Sancte Fidis of Bernard d'Angers, appea…

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…

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…

Reliquaries of Charlemagne

(812 words)

Author(s): Laurence Terrier Aliferis
Five reliquaries were made during the Middle Ages to hold the corporeal remains of Charlemagne. Apparently, at the time of his death on 28 of January 814, the emperor was placed in the antique (second-century) sarcophagus of Proserpine, reputed to have been brought by Charles from Rome for use as his tomb. It still exists at Aachen Cathedral Treasury. Around the year 1000, Otto III opened it and removed several objects (an evangelary, a sword and his crown). One hundred and sixty-five years late…

St Maurice

(815 words)

Author(s): Laurence Terrier Aliferis
The story of the martyrdom (see also Martyrs) of St Maurice and of the Theban legion is told by Eucherius, a bishop of Lyon in the middle of the fifth century. The text relates that, at the end of the third century, a legion constituted of 6600 soldiers under the orders of Maurice and coming from Thebes, in Egypt, stopped at Agaune, in Switzerland. The emperor Maximilian ordered their slaughter because the soldiers refused to sacrifice to the pagan idols; in another version of the story, the mas…

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…