Pilgrims and the Eye of Faith

Georgia Frank

in The Memory of the Eyes

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2000 | ISBN: 9780520222052
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924352 | DOI:
Pilgrims and the Eye of Faith

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This chapter focuses on pilgrims to the holy places and how they construed their sensory engagement with the holy sites. Significant here is their understanding of the “eye of faith,” an expression that stood for a broad range of visual and visionary experiences, including instances of conjuring and participating in events from the biblical past. Beyond demonstrating the primacy of sight at the holy places, the chapter also asks what qualities of seeing constitute the “eye of faith.” Why fourth-century pilgrims associated their most transformative moments with vision becomes a more complex problem when one considers the increasing use of touch in accounts from later centuries. What at first appears as a rupture or shift in the use of the senses at the holy places turns out to be a radical realization of cultural assumptions about the materiality of vision in late antiquity, a notion with profound implications for pilgrims' relation to the past.

Keywords: pilgrims; holy places; sensory engagement; sight; vision

Chapter.  11489 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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