Michel ZINK de l’Académie française, professeur émérite au Collège de France
LA MERVEILLE, LA NATURE ET L’HUMANITÉ
The merveilleux is perhaps what fascinates most spontaneously among the arts and literature of the Middle Ages. It is also the most different feature of these productions, becausethe merveilleux depends on parameters that have changed the most since the Middle Ages: the limits attributed to the laws of nature, the relationship between these laws, nature itself and the creating God, the direct interventions of God or diabolic powers in the course of things, the notion of norms, the place of the human.
These are all elements to be taken into consideration in order to understand the articulation between mirabilia and miracula, to understand the strangely rationalized marvel of the Middle Ages, and to measure the concerns and issues regarding the extension and limits of the human being.
Xavier BARRAL I ALTET, Université de Rennes II, Bibliotheca Hertziana – Rome
SE RENDRE À ROME POUR VOIR DES MERVEILLES (OU LES IMAGINER) AU XIIE SIÈCLE. À PROPOS DES MIRABILIA URBIS ROMÆ
The city of Rome underwent substantial transformations during the twelfth century, but its monumental landscape remained marked by ancient monuments, the first Paleo-Christian churches and the modifications of medieval urbanism. Medieval texts describing its “wonders” are critically examined in this contribution because they have too often been considered as travel guides: a fascinating problem between truth and creation, literary erudition and fantasy, reality and imagination.
Andreas HARTMANN-VIRNICH, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LA3M, Aix-en-Provence, France
Nicolas FAUCHERRE, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LA3M, Aix-en-Provence, France
Geoffrey MEYER-FERNANDEZ, École française d’Athènes / Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LA3M, Aix-en-Provence, France
Heike HANSEN, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LA3M, Aix-en-Provence, France
Dylan NOUZERAN, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LA3M, Aix-en-Provence, France
ACCUEILLIR, ENCADRER ET PROVOQUER LE MIRACLE EN TERRE SAINTE AU XIIE SIÈCLE : L’ÉGLISE HOSPITALIÈRE D’EMMAÜS (ABU GOSH) ET SA CRYPTE
The church of Abu Gosh, near Jerusalem, built around 1160 by the Hospitallers on a site identified by a tradition of uncertain origins with the Gospels “Emmaus”, is most famous for its magnificent Byzantine mural paintings, executed shortly before the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187. The Romanesque building stands on a perennial spring that flows within its crypt, tapped by a masonry conduit predating the church; it forms a pool one can enter through two flights of side steps.
Conducted in 2016-2017 and during the autumn of 2021, the archaeological and archival survey and study has enabled to considerably modify the chronology and function of the building. The first level, previously interpreted as a Roman cistern opportunely taken over and raised by the builders of the church, was built entirely ex novo as an integral part of the monumental program of the two-story church, intended to structure and enhance the access to the pool.
The descent into the water was organized by a sort of valve (or hammer) to stop the water and raise the level. The entire structure of the building and the circulations allowed access to this lower place of worship, either directly through a side portal, or through two semi-rock corridors in the western half of the building, which visitors could reach through the portal of the upper church. The first two spans of the church were probably reserved for the laity, while the two eastern spans and the three-apse chevet, entirely painted, were reserved for the monks, who could use private access from the conventual buildings to the east. The importance given to water suggests that it played a central role for visitors, including pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem.
However, the lapidary survey has identified an Arabic inscription on the floor of the main apse. This remarkable lapidary document, contemporary with the construction of the building, does not mention the Emmaus of the Gospel (identified since the Byzantine period with the competing site of Nicopolis) but prophet Samuel’ and patriarchs Isaac’ and Jacob’ names, with the word “nahr”, a reference to the water conduit located exactly in line with the inscription.
This finding now raises the question of the identification of the spring with the times of the Old Covenant. The study of the related buildings has changed the chronology accepted since the excavations of the 1940s: the remains previously attributed to a Fatimid caravanserai predating the Frankish church turn out to be later than the construction of the Frankish complex, which structure dates as early as the 12th century.
Although the link between the church and its contemporary monumental environment remains partly uncertain, the study of photographs prior to the restoration and construction of the early 20th century has shown that it was built against an architectural structure already in place, whose presence determined the access to the summit terraces: other remains and clues suggest that the site was already occupied, as was the catchment of the spring.
Laurence TERRIER ALIFERIS, Université de Neuchâtel
LES MIRABILIA MYTHOLOGIQUES DANS L’ESPACE ECCLÉSIAL
Subjects issued from Greco-Roman mythology were transmitted during the Middle Ages through several literary and visual traditions. Whilst numerous studies, as early as the 1930s, identified mythological subjects within churches, it is essentially the identification of the episode represented that retained the researcher’s attention.
Based on a corpus of capitals from the 11th and 12th century, the literary sources used and a repertoire of the most exploited topics are presented.
By raising the question of how antique themes integrate the realm of the marvelous, the analysis focuses on the placement of mythological capitals within the ecclesial space. This article shows Ovidian subjects appear around 1100 and the moralization of the Metamorphoses at the beginning of the 14th century were very certainly known during the 12th.
Moreover, the placing of mythological subjects on capitals was not left to chance but rather participated to a segmentation of ecclesial spaces and the articulation of a precise discourse.
Térence LE DESCHAULT DE MONREDON, Docteur en histoire de l’art
REPRÉSENTATIONS DU CHEVALIER DANS L’ART ROMAN : ENTRE RÉALITÉ, IMAGINAIRE ET MERVEILLEUX
When one thinks of the decoration of Romanesque churches, images of knights don’t come first to mind. However, their presence is quite prominent, whether on the façades or in the painted and sculpted interior decoration. This is why, faced with a multitude of varied representations, some with inscriptions, others including very specific details and others, on the contrary, very generic, one must ask oneself what was intended to be represented.
Are they real knights, legendary characters or evocative of a status, or even of the virtues or vices attached to this status? This is what we are going to try to clarify, using various French, Spanish and Italian examples.
Carlo TOSCO, Politecnico, Turin (Italie)
SAN MICHELE DELLA CHIUSA ET LES MERVEILLES DE L’ARCHANGE
San Michele della Chiusa was founded in the Susa Valley, the main path between Italy and France, at the end of the 10th century. According to tradition, the monastery was born after a miraculous event: the appearance of Archangel Michael on the mountain top.
Within the monastic community, the awareness of being part of a network of monasteries dedicated to the cult of the archangel was very clear and the Chronica monasterii Sancti Michaelis Clusini explicitly stresses the link with the sanctuary of Gargano and with Mont-Saint-Michel. In the sacred geography of the monks, there were therefore three St-Michael poles in Christian Europe, located in Puglia, Piedmont and Normandy.
The construction of the abbey became an extraordinary event because of the access difficulties to the site, situated on the top of the mountain: one of the archangel’s marvel in the Alpine landscape .
Francisco DE ASÍS GARCÍA GARCÍA, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Espagne)
LA MYTHIFICATION DU LIEU : SAN JUAN DE LA PEÑA ET D’AUTRES SANCTUAIRES TROGLODYTES HISPANIQUES
As it was common with many sanctuaries located between the mountains, tradition places the origins of the Aragonese monastery of San Juan de la Peña in a miraculous event.
These mythical origins, nurtured in later centuries, are a good example of the legendary traditions that surround numerous religious foundations erected or renovated in Romanesque times. These features took on a special significance in the Iberian context when linked with the experience of the frontier with al-Andalus and the consolidation of Christian spaces in the north of the peninsula.
Nature excited the imagination of those who related the origins and the development of these places. In this paper, the conjunction of landscape, architecture and legend will be assessed through a selection of cases from the Hispanic north.
Philippe CORDEZ, Centre allemand d’Histoire de l’Art (Paris)
Evelin WETTER, Conservatrice à la fondation Abegg, Riggisberg, et professeure honoraire à l’institut d’histoire de l’art de l’Université de Leipzig
VISION ET RÉFORME : LES VIERGES COURONNÉES D’HILDEGARDE DE BINGEN
Around 1150, the Rhenish nun Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), theorist and important protagonist of ecclesiastical reform, described in her collection of visions Scivias a head ornament devised as a specific marker of virgin nuns. In her text, she develops a program of images that can be found embroidered in silk, gold, and silver on a textile crown that has been kept at the Abegg Foundation (Riggisberg, Switzerland) since 2000.
Probably made for Hildegard at the end of her long life, this precious crown is clearly the same one that was venerated as a relic at the monastery of St. Matthias in Trier, where it is attested until 1793. This article sheds light on the biblical and ritual sources for Hildegard’s creation as well as on its conceptual origins and symbolic implications.
Florian MEUNIER, Conservateur en chef du patrimoine, Musée du Louvre, département des Objets d’art
MIRACLES AUTOUR DES OBJETS ROMANS
As early as the year 1000, Bernard of Angers’ testimony of the miracles by Sainte Foy of Conques demonstrates the links between miracles and reliquaries: miracles lead to donations funding, around 990, the creation of the reliquary which, in turn, by its look or the jewels seen by the pilgrims, can be at the origin of new wonders. Later in the 11th century, the Bayeux Tapestry offers one of the first representations of the use of a reliquary shrine during a ceremonial event. The memory of pilgrimage sites is embodied in the treasure and its relics, alongside with other marvelous objects such as mythical swords and olifants.
The reliquary is also the object of commemorations of previous miracles in connection with processions and festivals which are in turn the occasion for new miracles: in some cases, the date of arrival of the relics in the church (adventus) is celebrated, as illustrated by the lintel of the north portal of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire. The interpretation of the miracles depicted on the reliquaries is less obvious and more varied.
The ivory reliefs composing the 11th century reliquary of San Millán de la Cogolla are among the richest for both the miracles of the saint’s lifetime and those happening near his tomb. The shrine of Saint Martial in the Louvre, a Limousin production par excellence from the second half of the 12th century with its vermiculated base, is an original example of a synthesis of the saint’s life and miracles in a narrative but elliptical style.
The shrine of Saint Hadelin in Visé is one of the very few surviving examples of large Romanesque silver embossed shrine; its reliefs show the miracles of the founding abbot with legends in Latin verse. The relationship between miracles and artifacts is part of the broader question of the individual and the collective in the dialogue with the divine.
Emmanuel GARLAND, Docteur en histoire de l’art
LE MERVEILLEUX DANS LE DÉCOR DES ÉGLISES ROMANES DE L’AIRE PYRÉNÉENNE
The supernatural can be found everywhere in Romanesque churches, as it can be found everywhere in every day’s life at that time, in all parts of the society. It is both a means to represent the creation beyond the tangible world and a means to reflect the action of God, either its direct action or through the powers above and the saints.
Nevertheless, the way to represent the supernatural changes subject to its place within the church, its support (painting or sculpture), its geographical location, the time and, of course, the intend of the investor. Its frequency varies from one region to another, from a valley to its neighbouring one. Same for its content or its purpose.
As it “reflects the society (…), is a means to express culture and, at the same time, reflects the hidden and collective subconscious”, the supernatural reveals some specificities of these mountains where exchanges were partly influenced by the geographical and topographical constraints.
As artists more and more often travelled during these times, the expression of the supernatural became more and more homogenous as regard to form and place in the building. It pointed out the churches, in and around. But the spatial specificities that the topographical constraints imposed resisted to that standardization.
Jacqueline LECLERCQ-MARX, Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgique)
DE LA MERVEILLE À LA SAINTETÉ. SAINT CHRISTOPHE ET LES CYNOCÉPHALES (HAUT MOYEN GE ET MOYEN GE CENTRAL)
The Cynocephali or Dog Heads are not as common in pre-Romanesque art as other human-animal hybrids coming from Late Antique culture. Nonetheless, they have a significant role there and above all particularly in that they befit generally from a powerful push to humanize them. However disconcerting humans may find the idea of Cynocephali, especially when they appear in ecclesiastical sculpture and painting, their presence there has rarely been questioned in the course of centuries.
So much the odder, then, that a saint – Christopher in this case – whose cult is already well attested to in the fifth century CE, could have belonged to their tribe before his conversion conferred full humanity on him. Nonetheless, their role there is not insignificant, especially in that they benefit from a rather high degree of humanization. The present paper, therefore, will consider this puzzling matter from two perspectives. First we will examine the Cynocephali with reference to the most significant Late Antique and medieval texts about them before exploring their Romanesque representations.
Second, we will consider Saint Christopher from the points of view of his iconography and his hagiographic “cult,” tracing these briefly between the fifth and thirteenth centuries.
We will thus have noted that just as his monstrous origins are clearly reflected in the most ancient works, so this is still often the case in later Byzantine art, quite unlike what occurs in the Western artistic tradition. We will conclude by asking how we can explain this differing treatment between East and West.
Lara DE MERODE, Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgique)
ÊTRES MYTHIQUES ET PLANTES PRODIGIEUSES DANS LES HERBARII À L’ÉPOQUE ROMANE
This paper studies the notion and presence of “wonders” in manuscripts from the Romanesque period containing the Herbarius of Pseudo-Apuleius (4th century). Starting from a questioning of the meaning of “wonder” in the field of natural history, a reflection follows on the presence of mythical figures associated with certain plants, which are themselves sometimes fictional.
This study also raises the question of iconographic transfers of mythological types between pharmacopoeia and astronomy. Finally, some plants with a singular iconography are discussed for the originality of the medieval artistic thought they reveal. Contrasting with the text they illustrate, these images address, in their own way, the imaginary world of Romanesque artists.
Anna ORRIOLS, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Catalogne, Espagne)
BÊTES ET MONSTRES SUR PARCHEMIN : LES TABLES DES CANONS DES ÉVANGILES DE CUIXÀ
The canon tables of the Gospels made in the abbey of Sant Miquel de Cuixà in the second quarter of the 12th century (Perpignan Médiathèque Municipale, ms 1) bring together an extraordinary gallery of beasts and monsters that make them one of the richest examples known.
Although many of the motifs can be found separately in other earlier or contemporary tables, their richness and originality make them unique. Their structure and location, as a propyleum preceding the Gospel text, make them coincide with architectural structures that, contemporaneously, display similar ornamental and figurative repertoires.
The heterogeneous nature of the Cuixà tables may be explained by the plurality of references used by their authors, who enjoyed the creative freedom they could afford in this type of framing. This spares the search for individual readings of the various terrestrial, aquatic and aerial creatures that coexist animatedly on the panels, although it does not prevent us from considering them, collectively and together with the vegetation that crowns the architectures, as a choral allusion to Creation.
Olivier POISSON, Association culturelle de Cuxa
DEUX REPRÉSENTATIONS ROMANES D’ACÉPHALES DANS L’OEUVRE ATTRIBUÉ AU MAÎTRE DE CABESTANY
Enigmatic figures whose arms seem to be attached at the level of the ears have made it possible to identify the sculpted representation of acephalous figures in the portal of the Monestir del Camp (Passa, Roussillon) and in the apse of the abbey church of Saint-Papoul (Lauragais).
The article presents these sculptures from the 12th century with an exceptional theme and places them in the cultural tradition that mentions them from Antiquity to the Middle Ages and finally questions the meaning of their figuration.