Faculté des lettres

Marian Cult-sites along the Venetian sea-routes to Holy Land in the Late Middle Ages

Bacci, Michele ; Campobasso, Gianvito ; Dermitzaki, Argyri ; Scepanovic, Vesna ; Schiffhauer, Angela ; Zoitou, Sofia

In: Le Vie della Misericordia, 2017, p. 81-106

The present paper discusses materials collected and analysed in the frame of a research project coordinated by Michele Bacci at Fribourg University and supported by the Swiss National Found. It focuses on the spread of Marian cultic phenomena along the maritime routes between Venice and the Holy Land, which corresponded to the major commercial itineraries among territories mainly belonging to the... More

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    Summary
    The present paper discusses materials collected and analysed in the frame of a research project coordinated by Michele Bacci at Fribourg University and supported by the Swiss National Found. It focuses on the spread of Marian cultic phenomena along the maritime routes between Venice and the Holy Land, which corresponded to the major commercial itineraries among territories mainly belonging to the Venetian Stato da Mar. Relying on evidence provided by 14th to mid-16th century pilgrims’ travelogues, this study lays emphasis on the dissemination of new holy sites and cultic attractions which took place in this intermediary space between Venice and Palestine, namely on the coasts of Istria, Dalmatia, Albania, Corfu, the Morea, Candia, Rhodes and Cyprus, during the Late Middle Ages. In this respect, a number of holy objects found in such sites were regarded as especially attractive on account of their more or less direct association with the Gospel narratives. A key-role was played, in this context, by Marian mementoes, and more specifically by the images attributed to Saint Luke and perceived as authentic portraits of the Mother of God. An almost uninterrupted sequence of the Evangelist’s autograph icons dotted the navigation routes. The famous Nicopea icon in San Marco was the first of such objects encountered by pilgrims during their trip, but more were to be found in many different places, including the Franciscan church in Korčula, the Dubrovnik Cathedral, a small chapel at Kassiopi, St. Dominic in Modone, the convents of St. Francis and St. Saviour in Candia, the shrine of Monte Filerimo in Rhodes, the orthodox cathedral in Nicosia and finally the monastery of Saint Sabas in Alexandria. All those shrines participated in shaping a holy topography of the eastern coasts connected to the maritime pilgrimage phenomena in which outstanding is the particular Marian devotion. Such places gave shape to a topographic network which was perceived by pilgrims as an anticipation of the religious experience they expected to have in the Holy Land.