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Sainte-Châsse

(723 words)

Author(s): James Bugslag
The shrine reliquary known as the Sainte-Châsse contained the principal relic of Chartres Cathedral during the Middle Ages, the Sainte-Chemise, or Holy Tunic, a seamless garment believed to have been woven by the Virgin Mary and worn by her at the birth of Christ. From the late thirteenth century, there are also occasional references to a second relic, the Virgin's Veil. Creation of the shrine was attributed to a craftsman named Teudon, in about 962. Although destroyed during the French Revoluti…

Chartres Cathedral

(1,801 words)

Author(s): James Bugslag
The nature of the pilgrimage experience at Chartres was fundamentally fixed by Bishop Fulbert, (1006-28), who had the cathedral rebuilt after a fire in 1020. Consecrated in 1037, it took the double form of an upper and a lower church of huge size. The upper church was a basilica, with an ambulatory and three large radiating chapels (see Hilberry, 'Cathedral'). This plan is an early example of a new form of pilgrimage church that received canonical definition along the pilgrimage roads to Santiag…

Relics of the Virgin Mary

(3,993 words)

Author(s): James Bugslag
The nature of relics associated with the cult of the Virgin Mary is overwhelmingly conditioned by the widespread belief, from an early period, in her Assumption. After her death, Mary was bodily assumed into heaven, removing the usual source of the most important relics from consideration. Bodily relics are thus limited, for the most part, to strands of her hair. Even more popular were relics of her breast milk, which carried theological significance since, as the Mother of God, Mary was instrum…

Virgin Mary, Cult of

(4,700 words)

Author(s): James Bugslag
From 431 when the Council of Ephesus declared the Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God until at least 1854 when long-standing belief in the Immaculate Conception finally received papal ratification, the cult of the Virgin Mary experienced a remarkable development that made her, after Christ, the most invoked sacred figure in the history of the Christian religion. In liturgical terms, the Virgin Mary occupied a place midway between that of Christ and that of the saints. Besides occupying an import…