Pilgrims to the Living and the Memory of the Eyes

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 to the Living and the Memory of the Eyes

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This chapter explores the affinities between pilgrims' assumptions about vision and the visual experiences related to other aspects of piety in late antiquity through a selective investigation of Christian attitudes toward the veneration of relics and the cult of icons. It focuses on the conception of the beholder inherent in these devotions, leaving aside particular images, architecture, or ornamentation related to those practices. Whether on pilgrimage to places or to people, Christians accented the visual as a way to integrate the contradictions of their experiences. In describing monks as familiar patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, pilgrims extended the biblical vocabulary to monastic settings and to the desert generally. Through these travelogues, audiences witnessed not only the world of monasticism but also the world of the Bible itself. In short, travel writing and physiognomy made the biblical past accessible.

Keywords: pilgrimage; vision; visual experience; relics; icons; Christians; monks; travelogues; monasticism; travel writing

Chapter.  3887 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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