Sewing the Body of Christ: Eucharist wafer souvenirs stitched into fifteenth-century manuscripts, primarily in the Netherlands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Books of hours in the fifteenth century occupied several social and devotional roles. People used them to store small objects, including metal badges. Although the cultural practice of sewing in badges was widespread in the late Middle Ages, nearly all of the badges were removed (by later collectors). This article examines the practice by considering needle holes and offsets in the soft parchment, which indicate the shape of the badges and where they were attached. Noting that vast majority of metal offsets in books of hours are round, the author posits that these were not impressed by pilgrims’ badges, as is often repeated in the scholarly literature, but rather by tokens that commemorate having taken the Eucharist. The round badges are the same size and shape and bear the same imagery as host wafers. Owners stitched such badges into their books’ margins at locations relevant to Eucharistic piety. When they were sewn into books, Eucharist badges reconfigured the book as a shrine that recorded a votary’s pursuit of Communion.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of Historians of Netherlandish Art
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • Medieval manuscripts
  • Badges
  • Eucharist
  • Materiality

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Sewing the Body of Christ: Eucharist wafer souvenirs stitched into fifteenth-century manuscripts, primarily in the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this