Sacred space and landscape of medieval Conques in the light of textual sources (10th–12th centuries)

Sabina Rosenbergová, M.A.

My reasearch project focuses on the sacred space and landscape around the important medieval pil-grimage site of Conques (Conques-en-Rouergue, department Aveyron) and is part of a research project Conques in the Global World. Transferring Knowledge: From Material to Immaterial Heritage. My research builds on numerous studies by (not only) art historians on Conques dealing with the sacred space of the church, as well as the reliquary statue of Saint Foy and its function in (para)liturgical rituals, especially processions held in and around the sanctuary. To these studies, my project aims to add a perspective focused on the landscape around Conques, which I understand as a site of interaction between geographical reality and imaginary space, and as an important part of the religious experience of medieval believers. In particular, my research seeks to interpret the sacred space and landscape around the monastery with the help of a large corpus of written sources, mainly Latin hagiography, situated in Conques (10th–12th centuries). Despite the many topoi encountered in these hagiographies, the essential elements of the historical reality and period perception of sacred space and landscape are captured; at the same time, fundamental changes in this perception are revealed by changes in the various medieval redactions of these texts. Within my research, I attempt to combine this textual evidence with material sources and archaeological data; and I also attempt to incorporate more experimental methods using sensorial data and the embodied experience. My project should result in a closer understanding of how the landscape around the monastery of Conques was understood in the medieval period and what its role was in the experience of arriving pilgrims. Enriching the research on Conques with this perspective will contribute to a more comprehensive picture of the construction of this medieval site as an important element in the pre-modern European culture.

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