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Patrocinia Multa Erant Habentes: State, Parrocchia, and Colony – Relic Acquisition in Medieval Venice / Munk, Ana.

By: Munk, Ana.
Material type: ArticleArticleDescription: 153-191 str.Other title: State, Parrocchia, and Colony – Relic Acquisition in Medieval Venice [Naslov na engleskom:].Subject(s): relikvije, Venecija, sveci, prijenos | 6.04 | 6.05 | relics, Venice, saints, translatio, parrochia | relics, Venice, saints, translatio, parrochia In: Cuius patrocinio tota gaudet regio: saints' cults and the dynamics of regional cohesion str. 153-191Summary: When Senator Flaminio Corner wrote Notizie storiche delle chiese e monasteri di Venezia e di Torcello in 1757, the sheer quantity, varied provenance, and fame of some relics were seen as crucial evidence of the might and longevity of Venetian religious institutions. In doing so, Corner follows in the footsteps of the doge Andrea Dandolo, who in his Chronica extensa (ca. 1350) carefully documented the history of the most important Venetian relics, thus making them an indelible part of subsequent historical and political discourse. The obsessive need to account relics holdings in each Venetian church and monastery must have been self-evident to all his readers as a sort of ritual revisiting of times, territories and historical circumstances associated with each relic, the task that could not have been accomplished by means other than relic-accounting. While relic holdings were integral to the Venetian sense of self and increasingly to pilgrims’ perception of Venice as the second Holy Land, it is less clear why this part of Venetian history has not received attention in modern scholarship. While it is true that the cult of Saint Mark has been the subject of intense research, the relic cults in parish churches have not been sufficiently studied, although replenishing and maintaining a wider network of relics within a city seems to have been equally important as maintaining a clearly defined cultic center. This article outlines some patterns of acquiring relics for Venetian parish churches. I claim that the decentralization of relic cults was in part due to the ample autonomy of parochial churches in the early history of Venice and the insignificance of the ecclesia matrix, which is the cathedral. Furthermore, I have shown that entrepreneurial individuals brought relics to their parish churches from abroad to fulfill a constant need. Such endeavors may have brought them fame as happened to Tribunus from Malamocco and Rusticus from Torcello who were depicted proudly posing with the stolen body of Saint Mark in a 12th century mosaic, the first visualized narrative of a relic transfer in the medieval Venice. These acquisitions entered the State chronicles and some were honored by State rituals. Such was the case with the body of Saint Marina which was stolen from its resting place near Constantinople in 1213 by Giovanni Buora, a Venetian merchant, and subsequently deposited in his parish church, San Liberale. The body, however, rose to State prominence and received annual visits by the barefoot doge only when the Venetian army recovered Padova from Cambrai League on her feast day, the 17th of July, 1512. This is just one example of a parish cult that at some juncture became reactivated and revalued on a much broader level as a State cult. We might be able to conclude that creating multiple relic-based cults provided bases for a variety of social needs for individual and family promotion, peer recognition, personal protection, creation and maintenance of collective memory, and self- representation to visitors from abroad. The second aim of the paper was to elucidate how Venetians disempowered their colonies by empowering their parrochie. Examples are drawn from the eastern Adriatic, namely from the towns of Zadar, Trogir and Kotor (Ital. Cattaro). I argue that drawing relics from the eastern Adriatic cities was a means of weakening conquered cities while empowering individual and family identities in hometown parishes. As the story of Saint Tryphon’s leg demonstrates, the thefts were not necessarily only blind and blank attempts to weaken the enemy but were targeted acquisitions which were calculated to further supply body parts of previously established Venetian cults so to create meaningful symbolical connections for which a certain body part provided a crucial link. By focusing on several examples of thefts that sucked holy power from Dalmatia after 1204 A.D., I have outlined the mechanisms that created a wide network of holy power in late medieval Venice--a network which was necessary for the center and its center cult to function at its full force.
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When Senator Flaminio Corner wrote Notizie storiche delle chiese e monasteri di Venezia e di Torcello in 1757, the sheer quantity, varied provenance, and fame of some relics were seen as crucial evidence of the might and longevity of Venetian religious institutions. In doing so, Corner follows in the footsteps of the doge Andrea Dandolo, who in his Chronica extensa (ca. 1350) carefully documented the history of the most important Venetian relics, thus making them an indelible part of subsequent historical and political discourse. The obsessive need to account relics holdings in each Venetian church and monastery must have been self-evident to all his readers as a sort of ritual revisiting of times, territories and historical circumstances associated with each relic, the task that could not have been accomplished by means other than relic-accounting. While relic holdings were integral to the Venetian sense of self and increasingly to pilgrims’ perception of Venice as the second Holy Land, it is less clear why this part of Venetian history has not received attention in modern scholarship. While it is true that the cult of Saint Mark has been the subject of intense research, the relic cults in parish churches have not been sufficiently studied, although replenishing and maintaining a wider network of relics within a city seems to have been equally important as maintaining a clearly defined cultic center. This article outlines some patterns of acquiring relics for Venetian parish churches. I claim that the decentralization of relic cults was in part due to the ample autonomy of parochial churches in the early history of Venice and the insignificance of the ecclesia matrix, which is the cathedral. Furthermore, I have shown that entrepreneurial individuals brought relics to their parish churches from abroad to fulfill a constant need. Such endeavors may have brought them fame as happened to Tribunus from Malamocco and Rusticus from Torcello who were depicted proudly posing with the stolen body of Saint Mark in a 12th century mosaic, the first visualized narrative of a relic transfer in the medieval Venice. These acquisitions entered the State chronicles and some were honored by State rituals. Such was the case with the body of Saint Marina which was stolen from its resting place near Constantinople in 1213 by Giovanni Buora, a Venetian merchant, and subsequently deposited in his parish church, San Liberale. The body, however, rose to State prominence and received annual visits by the barefoot doge only when the Venetian army recovered Padova from Cambrai League on her feast day, the 17th of July, 1512. This is just one example of a parish cult that at some juncture became reactivated and revalued on a much broader level as a State cult. We might be able to conclude that creating multiple relic-based cults provided bases for a variety of social needs for individual and family promotion, peer recognition, personal protection, creation and maintenance of collective memory, and self- representation to visitors from abroad. The second aim of the paper was to elucidate how Venetians disempowered their colonies by empowering their parrochie. Examples are drawn from the eastern Adriatic, namely from the towns of Zadar, Trogir and Kotor (Ital. Cattaro). I argue that drawing relics from the eastern Adriatic cities was a means of weakening conquered cities while empowering individual and family identities in hometown parishes. As the story of Saint Tryphon’s leg demonstrates, the thefts were not necessarily only blind and blank attempts to weaken the enemy but were targeted acquisitions which were calculated to further supply body parts of previously established Venetian cults so to create meaningful symbolical connections for which a certain body part provided a crucial link. By focusing on several examples of thefts that sucked holy power from Dalmatia after 1204 A.D., I have outlined the mechanisms that created a wide network of holy power in late medieval Venice--a network which was necessary for the center and its center cult to function at its full force.

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