Encountering A Church in A Church: The Shape of St. Thomas Becket Reliquary Casket

Ziqiao Wang, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Description

This research examines the shape of a French reliquary made in 1300 AD. under the name of the Anglo Saint Thomas Becket, who was canonized in 1170. The study asks how the form corresponded to the cult of worship of St. Becket in 13th-century England. The shape alluded to the sacredness of the medieval church symbolically, enhanced the visibility of relics on the altar; the shape also guided pilgrims' eyes to practice their devotions. This study correlates with the medieval concept of sacred space, in the context of architectural renovations, and associates with the medieval theories of seeing. Since most of the scholars focus their materiality, my research will offer an alternative reading for medieval reliquaries with regard to their shape and visual affect. At the same time, this research will introduce a new way of understanding the nature of medieval spirituality: It was not the monodrama of people attending processions, cleansing souls, and revealing Godly visions. Instead, medieval spirituality was perpetuated and shared thoroughly and widely through people's sensory experiences with sacred objects.

 
Apr 27th, 12:00 AM

Encountering A Church in A Church: The Shape of St. Thomas Becket Reliquary Casket

This research examines the shape of a French reliquary made in 1300 AD. under the name of the Anglo Saint Thomas Becket, who was canonized in 1170. The study asks how the form corresponded to the cult of worship of St. Becket in 13th-century England. The shape alluded to the sacredness of the medieval church symbolically, enhanced the visibility of relics on the altar; the shape also guided pilgrims' eyes to practice their devotions. This study correlates with the medieval concept of sacred space, in the context of architectural renovations, and associates with the medieval theories of seeing. Since most of the scholars focus their materiality, my research will offer an alternative reading for medieval reliquaries with regard to their shape and visual affect. At the same time, this research will introduce a new way of understanding the nature of medieval spirituality: It was not the monodrama of people attending processions, cleansing souls, and revealing Godly visions. Instead, medieval spirituality was perpetuated and shared thoroughly and widely through people's sensory experiences with sacred objects.