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Cathedra Petri und Colonna Santa in St. Peter zu Rom. Überlegungen zu „Produktion“ und Konjunktur von Reliquien im Mittelalter


Jäggi, Carola (2016). Cathedra Petri und Colonna Santa in St. Peter zu Rom. Überlegungen zu „Produktion“ und Konjunktur von Reliquien im Mittelalter. In: Bergmeier, Armin F; Palmberger, Katharina; Sanzo, Joseph E. Erzeugung und Zerstörung von Sakralität zwischen Antike und Mittelalter : Beiträge der internationalen Tagung in München vom 20.–21.10.2015. Heidelberg: Propylaeum, 109-131.

Abstract

The “holy” has always been a construct. The sanctity of an object or a person is a label, which can be added and removed. Objects once considered holy can loose their holiness and even regain it again – albeit sometimes to a different degree than before. In St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome there are two objects that clearly demonstrate this process of oscillating holiness: the Colonna Santa and the Cathedra Petri. The Colonna Santa is an ancient column of Greek origin, which Constantine offered to the church of St. Peter’s for the decorum of the martyr’s tomb. The Cathedra Petri is a Carolingian throne, which was probably brought to Rome on the occasion of Charles the Bald’s coronation in 875. It is only in the High Middle Ages that these objects were infused with a holy narrative: the Colonna Santa was identified as the column, against which Jesus leant as he preached in the Temple of Jerusalem; the Cathedra was hailed as Saint Peter’s original chair. While both objects attained a holy status, the evidence suggests that different agents with different motives were responsible for their respective processes of sanctification. On the one hand, the Canons of St. Peter’s basilica clearly used the Cathedra as an argument against the Canons of the Lateran in order to stress the importance of their basilica as the “real” papal church. On the other hand, the Colonna Santa seems to have received its holy status more accidentally, probably due to late medieval practices of everyday piety.

Abstract

The “holy” has always been a construct. The sanctity of an object or a person is a label, which can be added and removed. Objects once considered holy can loose their holiness and even regain it again – albeit sometimes to a different degree than before. In St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome there are two objects that clearly demonstrate this process of oscillating holiness: the Colonna Santa and the Cathedra Petri. The Colonna Santa is an ancient column of Greek origin, which Constantine offered to the church of St. Peter’s for the decorum of the martyr’s tomb. The Cathedra Petri is a Carolingian throne, which was probably brought to Rome on the occasion of Charles the Bald’s coronation in 875. It is only in the High Middle Ages that these objects were infused with a holy narrative: the Colonna Santa was identified as the column, against which Jesus leant as he preached in the Temple of Jerusalem; the Cathedra was hailed as Saint Peter’s original chair. While both objects attained a holy status, the evidence suggests that different agents with different motives were responsible for their respective processes of sanctification. On the one hand, the Canons of St. Peter’s basilica clearly used the Cathedra as an argument against the Canons of the Lateran in order to stress the importance of their basilica as the “real” papal church. On the other hand, the Colonna Santa seems to have received its holy status more accidentally, probably due to late medieval practices of everyday piety.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Art History
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Language:German
Date:2016
Deposited On:21 Dec 2016 15:20
Last Modified:15 Nov 2022 11:14
Publisher:Propylaeum
Series Name:Distant Worlds Journal Special Issues
Number of Pages:24
ISBN:978-3-946654-37-7
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.11588/propylaeum.188.250
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: German