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Early Modern Europe
Protestant reformers felt it was wrong for Christians to make a god out of Mary. They felt it was blasphemous to treat Mary as a mediator to god when the only true mediator is Christ himself
Protestants still sought grace and favor from her but not salvation
They still visited and erected shrines in her honor as the mother of God but was not revered as Catholics felt (Parish and Naphy 2002).
When considering the Cult of Relics and the pilgrimages that took place as a result of this form of worship one cannot use too many superlatives. Tens to hundreds of thousands annually over centuries and millennia traveled to kneel at the base of a shrine. New miracles to surpass that of the old. Relief from purgatory for hundreds of years as the result of a single pilgrimage. Fortunes made and fortunes lost. Small villages growing to the size of towns, towns to the size of cities, cities growing to rival the size of the largest on the continent for no other reason than that they were on the route of or were the final destination of a pilgrimage.
Relic ~ remains of a saint ~ an object esteemed or venerated because of association with a saint or a martyr
First Class Relic - Something directly associated with the life of Christ,
articles of clothing, the manger, the cross, remains of those involved with
the life of Christ - the remains of saints also of the highest order of relic
Second Class Relic - Clothing and perhaps personal items of the saints
Third Class Relic - That which may have come into physical contact with a
saint either during his life or after
Reliquary ~ noun, a container of holy relics
The shrine to the Three Magi located in the Kolmer Dom in Cologne, Germany. Built in 1284 this reliquary was the gift of Emperor Otto IV. In this reliquary lay the remains of those three travelers of biblical times.
Saint Oswald ~ Revered as the king who resurrected Christianity in the north of England. Killed on the battlefield by his enemies, his body was mutilated, with his head and arms being mounted on stakes. His arms were eventually enshrined in silver and displayed in the Church of Saint Oswald. One would be stolen and displayed at another cathedral on the continent. His head was displayed in this reliquary in a cathedral in Germany…simultaneously displayed at two locations in Switzerland …one in the Netherlands…and buried in the coffin of Saint Cumberland. Parts of his body would become shrines in seventeen different cathedrals.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem sits atop the remains of the Savior
The remains ~ relics ~ of Saints Peter and Paul, removed from the catacombs in
Rome and placed in tombs in the Vatican and the Ostian Way
The relics of Saint James interred beneath the cathedral in Santiago, Spain
The relics of Saint Thomas Becket were displayed at the cathedral in Canterbury
All of these sites would become major destinations of pilgrims
The journey of the pilgrim would result in a transition from his normal existence. After deciding his destination he would acquire the permission of his local clergy. He would then tend to all of his worldly affairs: write out a will, pay all debts, and arrange for the care of his family and property during the period of his absence. This tended to, he would make his preparations.
Whether noble, priest, or merchant, each pilgrim will make the same preparation. His reason for the journey may be to do penance….or perhaps to invoke the magic of a particular saint to cure himself or a loved one…or as a thanksgiving for grace already received…or just to see the world. Whatever his motivation each pilgrim will transcend his current reality while undergoing the ritual of the pilgrim.
The pilgrim and those he travels with will acquire a specific costume. It will be comprised of the pilgrim hat and the typical smock over which will be worn a hooded cape….the pilgrims will also acquire a flask in the shape of a gourd to carry drinking water. Of most importance, they will come into possession of the staff and the scrip, a leather pouch to be attached to the belt. Noble, clergy and peasant alike shall shed their position and be identified by this garb as pilgrim to all those they may encounter for the duration of their journey.
Scrip ~ a small bag or wallet
The pilgrim badge would be purchased at the site of the shrine. If touched to the shrine it could then become imbued with the powers or magic of the relic. It would then be worn on the hat or the smock of the pilgrim for the balance of the journey. The ampulla would serve as a container to carry holy water, or perhaps healing water, for the purpose of invoking a cure for an ailing loved one unable to make the journey. It would be worn as a necklace on a string or chain.
Ampulla ~ flask with a globular body and two handles
James the Disciple spread the word of the Lord throughout the region of the world which would become Spain. After taking the word of God as far as Finnesterra, earth’s end, James returns to Judea.
Suffering his death at the hands of King Herod Agrippa I, the martyr's remains are miraculously transported by rudderless, crewless boat to a remote site in the northwest region of Spain, Iria Flavia.
Ninth century attempts through prayer to discover his relics result in stars falling from the sky at the location of his tomb. It is removed to a site nearby where the relics are verified by the devout king Alphonso II, who would have a small wooden church erected over the tomb.
Cathedral Chemin du San JacquesParisPilgrims would gather at this cathedral to hear a mass specifically designed for a pilgrimage. Their scrip and staff will be blessed in a ceremony similar to the blessing of the sword of the knights of old. This done they would continue their journey, perhaps south, and then west to Santiago de Compostela.
Chemin ~ french noun, path or road
Utilizing roads, by this time well delineated as a result of centuries of predecessors, a group of pilgrims would make its way south through the western regions of France. Stopping at villages, towns, and cities, many of which owe their size, if not their existence, to the fact that they are on the route of the pilgrim.
They will take shelter along the way in inns or hospices. They will visit shrines along the route. They may make a side journey to the site of a recent miracle.
Proceeding in this manner they will eventually reach the base of the Pyrenees which they will then ascend to the summit, their road having been joined by two others, and eventually a third, which have made their way through France.
The map shows the four major routes through France. All eventually uniting in the northeast corner of Spain.
Camino de Santiago ~ The Way of Saint James
RoncasvallesNear the summit of the Pyrenees the pilgrims will come to the Colegiata of Our Lady of Roncasvalles a true starting point of their journey along the Camino Santiago. The site of an elaborate hospitale for both the lodging and care of the pilgrims it also encompassed this beautiful cathedral, a chapel and a cemetery.
Once over the summit of the Pyrenees they will be in a region of Spain well accustomed to visitors. Here and the rest of their way through the northern regions of Spain, soon to be untied by Ferdinand and Isabella, they will find hospices a days journey apart maintained by monks where they will be fed and housed. They will cross rivers on stone bridges, which have replaced wooden bridges, which had replaced hollowed out trees as a means of transport over these natural barriers. In the less remote areas they will travel on cobbled roads maintained by king’s soldiers for their benefit. They will visit significant shrines in major cities, go to mass, make their contributions.
There they will also find markets and accommodations, inns and restaurants, and entertainments, who owe their success to these travelers. They are traveling through a part of the world that has recognized their value for centuries.
As a result of a myth…. that became a legend… some miracles that caused the building of a small wooden church over some remains… tens of thousands of those who came before them… and a long journey from Paris… the pilgrims will arrive at this, the Cathedral Santiago. Here again they will participate in a mass, kneel at a shrine, make their offerings, and they will have a lifetime of sins washed away. Cleansed. Forgiven.
Compostela ~ Field of the Stars
Arriving on Feast Day, July 25th, the pilgrims would have encountered throngs of people filling this square in front of the cathedral…..booths and stalls set up for the sale of food and the badges of the shrine ~ more than one relic could be worshiped at this site….groups of musicians making merry…and a cathedral so crowded as to be unsafe. Their journey half complete the pilgrims would reverse their course for the trek home. They may hurl a badge into the river as a symbol of the completion of the vigil. A badge or ampulla possessing the magic of a relic may cure a loved one or rest in a special location in the home protecting the inhabitants. Having come full circle they will return to the life they had left months before.
In this magnificent cathedral of arches and stained glass lay the remains of the Three Magi. Those gift bearing travelers of biblical times. Their journeys through life and death did not end until they were brought to the site of this cathedral from Milan by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in the year 1164.
No context here ~ this is just particularly beautiful
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