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Comparing Pilgrim Souvenirs and Trinity Chapel Windows at Canterbury Cathedral

Comparing Pilgrim Souvenirs and Trinity Chapel Windows at Canterbury Cathedral

Blick, Sarah (Art History, Bailey House, Kenyon College)

MIRATOR SYYSKUU/SEPTEMBER/SEPTEMBER (2001)

Abstract

The similarity is striking. A pair of medieval pilgrim ampullae closely resemble stained glass windows from Trinity Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral in their composition, iconography, and even their inscription. This paper will examine the reasons for this similarity from three points of view, showing how deeply linked these objects were. First, uniting monumental and miniature art, these objects were both created to promote the cult of St. Thomas Becket and his power of miraculous healing via blood-tinged water. Second, their likeness helped pilgrims, who saw the stained glass window and purchased the ampullae, remember their visit to the Cathedral. The pilgrim souvenirs sparked their memories by copying the sites they experienced. These replications reveal much about the nature of copying in the Middle Ages. Third, the close copy of the windows by the ampullae allows art historians to glimpse a medieval window that was shattered centuries ago.

 

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