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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 407: What Did Writing Do for Relics?: A Round Table Discussion

Monday 4 July 2016, 19.00-20.00

Sponsor:NWO-VIDI Project 'Mind Over Matter: Debates about Relics as Sacred Objects, c. 350 - c. 1150'
Organisers:Elisa Pallottini, Dipartimento di Storia, Culture, Religioni, Università degli Studi di Roma 'La Sapienza'
Janneke Raaijmakers, Afdeling Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis, Universiteit Utrecht
Moderator/Chair:Janneke Raaijmakers, Afdeling Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis, Universiteit Utrecht

Relics, often tiny, were meaningless without media explaining their significance and conveying information regarding the saint's identity and origin. Much scholarly attention has been paid to hagiography as a means to identify saints and to lend authority and authenticity to saints' remains. Yet, relics were accompanied by many other forms of evidence, such as labels, inscriptions, and lists. We would like to place the focus of this round table discussion on the latter sources: evidence found inside and on reliquaries and altars, in relation to the physical setting of the cult site (if possible). Part of this evidence was clearly visible to the audience, but part of it was not, for example being hidden inside relic holders or being inscribed too high up on the walls for anyone to read. How was writing used in these contexts? How did symbols, letters, seals, the materiality of the reliquaries, altars, and labels help to establish authenticity? In addition, what other uses did writing have? And how can we know/establish these uses?

Participants include Vincent Debiais (Université de Poitiers), Caroline Goodson (Birkbeck, University of London), Estelle Ingrand-Varenne (Université de Poitiers / Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)), Marika Räsänen (University of Turku), Hedwig Röckelein (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen), and Julia M. H. Smith (University of Glasgow).