Bringing Pilgrimage Home: The Production, Iconography, and Domestic Use of Late-Medieval Devotional Objects by Ordinary People
2. Private Devotion—Upper and Lower Classes
3. Public versus Private Images
5. Pilgrim Souvenirs or Private Amulets?
6. Types of Interactive Souvenirs
7. Three-Dimensional Devotional Sculptures
8. Folding Objects
9. Lockets, Chains, and Cylinders
10. Rattles, Bells, and Whistles
Conflicts of Interest
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Not all movement was appropriate for devotional pieces. Spinning parts, found in toys and secular badges of the same period, were not used, presumably because it would have been disrespectful to watch a sacred figure spin. Some secular badges incorporate spinning, such as 15th-century pins in a tracery hexagonal shape with cusping and crockets surrounding a sun- or starburst and windmill badges with sails that rotate (Spencer 1998, p. 297; Spencer 1990, p. 103, cat. 235).
Some pilgrim badges with moveable parts, such as the tiny swords with scabbards produced at Canterbury as souvenirs of the martyrdom of Becket and at Mont-St-Michel as an emblem of the Archangel Michael, were not necessarily designed to create a personal devotional object (Spencer 1998, pp. 93–9, cat. 66–72c). See also the virtual exhibition http://www.inrap.fr/preventive-archaeology/Virtual_exhibitions/Virtual_exhibitions/Making_Pilgrim_Badges_at_Mont_Saint_Michel/The_historical_context/p-1478-Pilgrims_and_the_Mount.htm.
Denis Bruna (2006, fig. 109–15) first noted these kinds of objects and their use for personal devotion.
They could act as devotional objects and be a source of succor for the remainder of the pilgrims’ lives (Köster 1985, pp. 94–96). Sometimes pilgrims made them more powerful by casting them into bells, morses, tankards, or baptismal fonts, or placing them in cattle troughs or fields to guard against vermin infestation.
Amsterdam, Historisch Museum, c. 1500 (Kammel 2000, p. 135, fig. 8). Badges are from Wilsnack and Blomberg, Amsterdam.
Many pilgrim souvenirs (especially ampullae, though they could be hung up by their handles) have been discovered with nail holes through them. See, for example, badges such as that of Adrian of Geraardsbergen, found in Middelburg in 1983 and now in Zeeuws Museum, inv. M84-004-04. My thanks to Hanneke van Asperen for this reference. See also http://www.findsdatabase.org.uk/hms/pas_obj.php?type=finds&id=001482469ED018D2, http://www.findsdatabase.org.uk/hms/pas_obj.php?type=finds&id=00147AC7E1101B08.
On agnus dei discs, see (Jones 2000, p. 2 and Brückner 1993). Paper maché forms the central image and side roundels of a humble wooden triptych c. 1600, Berlin, Skulpturensammlung (Kammel 2000, p. 24, fig. 22).
Old Testament pictures were rarely found in private homes, but New Testament iconography was common to both church and home. With popular images, institutions could lose power, so some recalled worshipers by making their images more compelling through elaborate and sumptuous materials or through the aura of sanctity “conferred by age or authenticity” or by indulgences (Belting 1994, p. 410; Ringbom 1984, p. 53). Also portable were images in single sheets and small pamphlets, booklets, schedules, and quires (Aston 2004, p. 166; see also Belting 1994, p. 409).
Bans included Wells (1258), Exeter (1287), Lincoln (1290).
Only certain artisans in Le Puy-en-Velay were allowed to sell badges; other kinds of souvenirs were not regulated.
Pieter Aertsen, Retour d’un pèlerinage à Saint Antoine (c. 1500), Muséedes Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, paints a stall with pilgrim souvenirs and toys, including small windmills, drums, and crossbows.
There were attempts to regulate the trade. By the 13th century, 100 stalls were licensed to sell scallop shell pilgrim souvenirs at Santiago de Compostela, but selling them outside the town boundaries courted excommunication (Stalley 1988, p. 410; Köster 1985, p. 86).
Churches bought batches of printed amulets, sold by itinerant peddlers, to distribute to parishioners.
Some believed that talismans should be kept from the uneducated as they could not understand them (Skemer 2006, p. 59, n. 111).
Automatons were popular adornments for late medieval public clocks, such as that on the tower of Orvieto Cathedral, cast in 1351 from the same metal composition as bells. A mechanical rooster crowed and fluttered its wings with every clock stroke (Frugoni 2003, pp. 86, 89–90). There are also stories of the 16th-century king Charles V being entertained by military automata and wooden birds that seemed to fly around the room without support. (See also Truitt 2015; Roy 1980, esp. pp. 63–64; and Scot 1930, p. 198.) At fairs, jugglers used illusion to make one think that their heads were cut off and laid on a platter like John the Baptist.
Bird, Late 13th/early 14th century, Museum of London (Forsyth 2005, pp. 52, 56, 143, and fig. 9). Some pilgrim souvenirs ended up as toys. In 1487, a child, given a Becket pilgrim badge to play with, choked on it, and was only saved by appealing to the popular saintly figure Henry VI (Grosejean 1935, no. 133).
One poor troubadour could give an image nothing, but “received a silver shoe slipped off and thrown to him as a gift” (Belting 1994, p. 305).
Spencer 1998, p. 260, no. 256; VRY89 26 (93.82) Museum of London. Mid-14th-16th century.
See also (Spencer 1987, p. 224, fig. 85: 8.6 cm h × 2.8 cm w × 2.6 cm d), private collection; Spencer 1990, 25.
These figures were possibly from the Boxley Rood pilgrimage site. (See also Egan 1997, p. 414; Egan 1998, pp. 281–82, no. 930–31.) One of these heads still retains a flat base; another has an internal second tube that enabled the head to be extended and then pushed back.
For example, the figures from the 15th-century screen at Branham Broom parish church, Norfolk: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/23395013335/sizes/l.
Several are in Praha, Museum of Decorative Arts, including Barbara (UPM 5 705/1894), 15th c. (Praha Museum of Decorative Arts 1985), 21 no. 14, 23, no. 158; (Kühne et al. 2012, p. 94, cat. 152) and (St. Martin 1990) [UPM 5 704/1894] and p. 113, cat. 187. A cardinal (Jerome?), late 15th century, is in Paris at the Musée National du Moyen Age (17974) (Bruna 2006, p. 269). Two bases have survived without their figures in the Historisches Museum Basel (1904.2114 and 1904.2113) (Bruna 2006, p. 272, cat. 523–24). A number of unidentified figures retain pieces of the socle base.
Stedelijke Musea, Bruges. Another example of a free-standing souvenir is the less elaborate cross on a circular socle braced by two arcs on either side. On one side is the corpus with the INRI board above and on the other a beaded outline of the crossbeams (Bruna 2006, pp. 79–80, cat. 70).
Praha 1985, 25, no. 179 (UPM 5 658/1894); Kühne et al. 2012, 79, cat. 112–13.
95 mm h × 43 mm × 21 mm d. (Koldeweij 1989, pp. 124–26, pl. 10).
The upper portion of a traceried Gothic pinnacle measured 6.3 cm (Praha Museum of Decorative Arts 1985), p. 25, no. 190 [UPM 5 646/1894]).
Fictive curtains, too, were used to frame important images and give the viewer a sense of ceremony when seeing Christ or Mary or other sacred personages.
See also Hague, National Library of the Netherlands, MS 130 E 18, fol. 86v, where a miniature of a funeral mass is still covered by an attached curtain and there are also traces of pilgrimage badges (Van Asperen 2009, pp. 324–25, no. I 43). Rudy (2015, pp. 84–85, fig. 66) suggests that the book owner treated the miniatures with curtains as altarpieces. My thanks to Hanneke van Asperen for these references.
Colored-paper backing can be seen on the pilgrim badges which decorate the hat of Saint Sebaldus, Saint Veits Altarpiece, by the Meister des Augustineraltars, 1487, Nuremberg, Nationalmuseum. Dabs of paint can also be seen on the badge in the upper left in Book of Hours (Use of Angers) with pilgrims’ badges, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment, France (Angers?), 1450–1475 http://www.textmanuscripts.com/medieval/book-of-hours-use-of-angers-96384.
111 mm × 57 mm (Van Beuningen et al. 2001, pp. 59–66, 326).
The other example has three vertical sides and two roof panels that could be folded into a three-dimensional reliquary châsse. Measuring 7.7 × 3.5 cm, done in openwork patterns with clips (Pieters et al. 1997–1998). Now in Oostende, Heemkundig Museum De Plate. See also Kühne et al. 2012, p. 150, cat. 266; and Praha 1985, p. 25, no. 186 (UPM 5 641/1894), 14th–15th century, 4.3 cm in height.
See Spencer 1998, pp. 65–71, for examples from Canterbury.
Fragments of tiny furniture are described in Egan 1998, p. 127. See also (Webb 1990, p. 159); and (Trexler 1980, p. 377).
Copper alloy was used more frequently in pilgrim souvenirs in the second half of the 15th century (Spencer 1998, pp. 167–70; Hall 2007, p. 77). A folded textual amulet was found in the Ingleby Arncliffe Crucifix (Skemer 2006, p. 183). Personal reliquary crosses, popular in Byzantium, were often incised with images of holy figures on their exterior. See, for example, the “Reliquary Cross with Saint George [Byzantine] (2000.526.2)” at. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/priv/ho_2000.526.2.htm. In the West, these items were made out of precious materials beginning around 1000.
Now in Ghent, Oudheidkundig Museum van de Bijloke (3538) (Heins 1897–1915, p. 261; Koldeweij 2006, p. 24, fig. 1.13, 16th century, 50 mm diameter; Van Asperen 2013, p. 230). Secular counterparts can be found too, such as a locket with Tristan and Isolde in Spencer 1998, p. 327. Van Beuningen 2001, p. 360, cat. 1516 illustrates a crude hinged locket with the Vera Icon (front) and the Agnus Dei (reverse), 1350–1400.
Many sources exhorted the faithful to make “honeyed” sounds. Basil the Great noted that vocal music was to be like honey smeared in a cup of bitter medicine leading to tranquility and peace (Basil the Great 1857–1866, p. 212) and John Chrysostom wrote of hymns as uplifting the mind with modulated melody (Chrysostom 1857–1866, p. 156). Colossians 3:16 speaks of “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual sings with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” My thanks to Rebecca Abbott for her help in suggesting sources and discussing this topic with me.
At Mont-St-Michel, the monks required a portion of the profits of the badges sold to be turned over to them. See the INRAP virtual exhibition referenced in note 2.
For ceramic examples, see Koldeweij 2006, pp. 75–76, cat. 4.10–4.13.
Six silver bells accompanied the raising of the shrine cover at Durham Cathedral (Fowler 1964, p. 4).
Other bells were associated with St. Anthony pilgrim badges in the shape of a Tau cross (Van Beuningen and Koldeweij 1993, p. 125, cat. 35).
(Sumberg 1941, p. 106, fig. 18); (Koldeweij 2006, p. 44, fig. 2.51), illustrating a detail from the Legend of St. Lucy by the Master of the St. Lucy Legend. Bruges, Church of St. James, c. 1480.
See also James Bugslag (2016). Performative Thaumaturgy: The State of Research on Curative and Spiritual Interaction at Medieval Pilgrimage Shrines. In The Sacred and the Secular in Medieval Healing: Sites, Objects, and Texts. Edited by Barbara S. Bowers and Linda Migl Keyser. London: Routledge, pp. 219–65, pls. 8–10.
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Blick, S. Bringing Pilgrimage Home: The Production, Iconography, and Domestic Use of Late-Medieval Devotional Objects by Ordinary People. Religions 2019, 10, 392. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060392
Blick S. Bringing Pilgrimage Home: The Production, Iconography, and Domestic Use of Late-Medieval Devotional Objects by Ordinary People. Religions. 2019; 10(6):392. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060392Chicago/Turabian Style
Blick, Sarah. 2019. "Bringing Pilgrimage Home: The Production, Iconography, and Domestic Use of Late-Medieval Devotional Objects by Ordinary People" Religions 10, no. 6: 392. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060392