Encyclopedia of Medieval Pilgrimage

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Subject: History

Edited by: Larissa J. Taylor et al.

The Encyclopedia of Medieval Pilgrimage is an interdisciplinary reference work, giving wide coverage of the role of travel in medieval religious life. Dealing with the period 300-1500 A.D., it offers both basic data on as broad a range of European pilgrimage as possible and clearly written, self-contained introductions to the general questions of pilgrimage research.

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Vadstena Abbey

(710 words)

Author(s): Gerhard Lutz
As the burial place of St Birgitta of Sweden, Vadstena in Östergötland (Sweden) is one of the outstanding late medieval pilgrimage centers in Scandinavia (see also Scandinavian Sites). In 1346 King Magnus Eriksson and his spouse Blanche ceded their house in Vadstena to Birgitta to establish the first convent according to her rules there. Birgitta left Sweden in 1349 to promote her plans for a religious community in Rome. But she had to wait until 1370 to get the Pope’s sanction for the order. Bi…

Vadstena, Shrine of

(508 words)

Author(s): W. Scott Poole
Dedicated to St Birgitta of Sweden, the Shrine at Vadstena emerged after the fourteenth century at the location of an older site of pilgrimage. In recent years, the shrine has increased in importance as St Birgitta became associated with modern papal concerns over the secularization of Europe and a papal proclamation of Birgitta as one of the patron saints of Europe. Vadstena grew into an important Swedish town by the eleventh century, both because of its prosperity as a fishing village and, more importantly, because it became a crossroads both for mercha…

Venice

(3,365 words)

Author(s): Paola Modesti
Venice as the port of embarkation to the Holy Land Travel to the places that had witnessed Christ's preaching, miracles and passion, undertaken from the outset of the Christian era and furthered by Constantine's sacralization of the Holy Lands, benefited from the commercial routes of the Italian mariner cities well before the year 1000. Not even the Muslim conquest (638) broke these maritime links, which permitted both pilgrimage and an intense trade in relics. Thus it was that in 828 a relic arrived in V…

Vessels

(359 words)

Author(s): Heather McCune Bruhn
Medieval treasuries often contained reliquaries made from objects with a different original function.  When a chalice, ciborium or pyx was superseded by a larger and more precious vessel, it might be transformed into a reliquary. These objects were made of costly materials like silver gilt and ivory that were as appropriate for relics as for the sacraments. A lid transformed the thirteenth-century Eptinger Chalice into a reliquary after Basel Cathedral acquired a new chalice in 1458. The sixteenth century Hallesche Heiltum illustrates a reliquary ciborium, originally made to …

Vézelay

(907 words)

Author(s): Whitney Leeson
By the 12th century, Vézelay, which began as a small Benedictine abbey founded in Burgundy by Count Girart de Roussillon and his wife Berthe (ca. 859), had become the largest pilgrimage center in France. The abbey's founders had endowed it richly with lands and rents before donating it to the papacy in 863, an arrangement that provided the new foundation with fiscal and judicial immunity from their feudal overlords, the counts of Nevers, and the bishops of Autun, who controlled the diocese of Se…