Title

Inventing Apostolic Impression Relics in Medieval Rome

Abstract

This article examines impression relics associated with Saints Peter and Paul: the apostolic knee prints now at the church of Santa Francesca Romana; a stone marked by Simon Magus, their foe; Christ's footprints at the church of Domine quo vadis; and the springs attributed to Paul's head at the abbey of Tre Fontane. These relics of Rome's most important saints attracted attention from Romans and non-Romans-from Gregory of Tours and Pope Paul I to Petrarch and Nikolaus Muffel. The article analyzes the cultural expectations and viewing habits that conditioned the identification of these relics and traces their reception over time. It argues that while the identification was spurred by preexisting knowledge of the saints' local actions, a site's unique features could lead viewers to alter those narratives to conform them to the physical evidence they saw on the ground, which might in turn drive subsequent historical accounts. In this process, texts, images, and topography were all evidence; a reading of one informed the reading of others.

Publisher

University of Chicago Press

Publication Date

4-1-2021

Publication Title

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies

Department

Art History

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1086/713103

Language

English

Format

text

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