The Medieval Reliquary: Shrine, Pilgrimage and Souvenir




4th Floor Classroom


Ittai Weinryb

The course will serve as an introduction to the world of medieval reliquaries. As material objects that were made to enshrine the relics of the holy dead, the medieval reliquary presents the most rigorous way in which the material culture of the earthly world interacted with the divine and supernatural worlds. In this course we will also examine the various ritual processes that took place around the reliquary: primarily the ritual of pilgrimage. As one of the foundations of Christian religion, the pilgrimage to holy places, led tens of thousands of worshippers to visit reliquary shrines across Europe. Offerings were made and souvenirs, such as badges and painted prayers, were purchased at these shrines, thus creating specific material exchange between the domestic sphere and the sacred one. The holy dead interacted through material exchange with all facets of the human life. And so in this course, reliquaries, shrines, offerings and souvenirs will offer the materialistic presence to an intrinsic social process. 3 credits.