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Touching of Relics

(1,354 words)

Author(s): Anastasia Keshman
The touching of relics is one of the highlights of the veneration of holy places. The goal of any pilgrimage is to be as close as possible to a saints' remains, and the locations connected to him or her. Although it can be seen as a contradiction to the New Testament postulate of believing without seeing and touching (John 20:29), the veneration of the holy through touch has a solid theological background. The practice originates from the belief in miracle-working virtus - God's direct power, transferred through the saints and their relics. Virtus can work miracles through touch and ca…

Salvation Themes

(700 words)

Author(s): Anastasia Keshman
The Christian doctrine of salvation refers to the deliverance of the human race or an individual from original sin by granting redemption, made possible through the sacrifice of Christ. For the worthy, the internal liberation from all evil will be fulfilled with the second coming of Christ at the End of Days, and entering paradise. Theologically, the use of salvation iconography on reliquaries points to the belief that God awards the saint preasentia, a double presence: the saint's body rests on earth inside the reliquary, yet his soul has already joined God in glor…

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

(929 words)

Author(s): Anastasia Keshman
The Holy Sepulchre church is one of the most important medieval buildings and pilgrimage destinations. Considered the center of the Christian universe, it commemorates the founding events of the Christian faith -- the crucifixion, the death, the entombment, and the resurrection of Christ. The Holy Sepulchre complex (see also Holy Land Romanesque Architecture) was built primarily for protection and veneration of the places identified as Calvary and the tomb of Christ. At the time of the Second Temple, both Golgotha and the cemetery were s…

Crosses and Cross Bases

(440 words)

Author(s): Anastasia Keshman
The cross as symbol originated in that on which Christ was crucified (the True Cross). The veneration of the wood of this cross by pilgrims was recorded first by Egeria, c.380 (Itinerarium of Egeria; Itinerarium Egeriae, ch. 37). Jeweled crosses symbolized Christ's victory over death, such as the large-scale golden cross with precious stones erected by Theodosius II at Golgotha in the fifth century, which became a major attraction for pilgrims ( Breviarius de Hierosolyma, chs. 1-2). Any cross bearing a representation of the body of Christ is called a crucifix. Some la…