Passion Relics and the Medieval Imagination

Art, Architecture, and Society

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Cynthia Hahn
  • Berkeley: 
    University of California Press
    , January
     176 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Although objects associated with the Passion and suffering of Christ are among the most important and sacred relics venerated by the Catholic Church, this is the first study that considers how they were presented to the faithful. Cynthia Hahn adopts an accessible, informative, and holistic approach to the important history of Passion relics—first the True Cross, and then the collective group of Passion relics—examining their display in reliquaries, their presentation in church environments, their purposeful collection as centerpieces in royal and imperial collections, and finally their veneration in pictorial form as Arma Christi. Tracing the ways that Passion relics appear and disappear in response to Christian devotion and to historical phenomena, ranging from pilgrimage and the Crusades to the promotion of imperial power, this groundbreaking investigation presents a compelling picture of a very important aspect of late medieval and early modern devotion.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Cynthia Hahn is Professor of Art History at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has written extensively on saints and relics in both articles and books, including Portrayed on the Heart, Strange Beauty, and The Reliquary Effect.


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