The Holy Network. The place of textiles in early relic circulation



Rok publikování 2016
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Filozofická fakulta

Popis The present 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. Since the middle of the fourth century, Christian communities were in search for the holy protection provided by the intercession of the martyrs, guaranteed by the possession of their lifeless bodies. In order to provide this kind of protection for the communities missing their own local martyrs – and observing the imperial law prohibiting the disturbing and dismembering of dead bodies – the practice of producing what we call secondary or contact relics made its way in the Western part of the Empire. Two major bishoprics of the Christian West at the end of the fourth century, Rome and Milan, were following two different strategies of producing and distributing relics. Whereas the Roman bishops preferred a very limited distribution of exclusively contact relics called brandea – pieces of textile put on the body or tomb of the martyr – the bishop Ambrose of Milan created a new type of relic, less abstract and more physical: pieces of cloth or gypsum drenched in the blood of the martyrs. Through a massive and unprecedented relic distribution among the ecclesiastical elite of that time, Ambrose succeeded in creating and strengthening the ties between Milan and numerous local churches throughout the Empire and enhancing the prestige of his bishopric. In the decades following the death of Ambrose, a number of bodily relics from the East appeared and circulated in the West, mainly those of Saint Stephen, discovered in 415.Much later, since the ninth century, the attitude of the popes and other Western bishops towards corporeal relics completely changed and opened the way to what we perceive as a truly medieval relic cult with the dismembered bodies of saints circulating all over the Christian world.
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