The Holy Network. The Place of Textiles in Early Relic Circulation



Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference Textile Gifts in the Middle Ages. Objects, Actors, and Representations
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords Cult of Relics; medieval Textiles; Ambrose of Milan; Late Antiquity
Description The paper focuses on the origins and early development of relic circulation with a particular emphasis on the role of textile in the multiplication of the sacred wealth of local churches. This is done by comparing two different approaches towards the creation and distribution of relics in the two most important Western bishoprics in Late Antiquity, Rome and Milan. Whereas Rome strictly kept the sacred wealth in order to attract pilgrims to the holy graves, the bishop of Milan Ambrose engaged in an unprecedented campaign of fabrication and distribution of relics, some believed to be textiles drenched in blood of the local martyrs. Moreover, the paper draws attention to the official attempts to justify the equality of contact relics – especially those whose medium was textile – with corporeal relics before the Carolingian era.
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