Mobilising mob mentality: the miracle of the relic of Saint Andrew

May, Susan (2015) Mobilising mob mentality: the miracle of the relic of Saint Andrew. Zetesis, 2 (1). pp. 42-53. ISSN 2059-2582

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For ‘Twice Upon a Time: Magic, Alchemy and the Transubstantiation of the Senses’, the Call for Papers cast the context for the conference in the following terms:

... Western tradition remains cautious of unreasoned sensorial data, treating it with illusory trepidation. While this paradigm has proven an efficient methodology, it has installed a discriminatory partition between that which can be rationalised or mathematized and that which is ‘only’ sensory.

This paper takes a backward glance to a pre-Enlightenment age, when ‘unreasoned sensorial data’ was accepted as part and parcel of everyday life. It touches on the unquestioning belief in the supernatural power of holy relics, exemplified here by a ‘miraculous’ event brought about by a sacred fragment from the head of Saint Andrew the Apostle (first century AD). The occasion was orchestrated by Pope Pius II, the learned humanist Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (b.1405-1464); the setting, the village of his birth, Corsignano, which he renamed Pienza, after himself. As well as thus creating a memorial for posterity, the buildings and streets of Pienza - indeed also the surrounding countryside - provided the scenography for his ultimate foundational act, the performance of religious ritual in time and space, lifted onto a cosmographical plane by the endowment of the relic on the occasion of a holy feast day falling at the autumnal equinox.

Item Type: Article
Date: 2015
Subjects: K900 Others in Architecture, Building and Planning
V100 History by period
V200 History by area
V300 History by topic
V600 Theology and Religious studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts > Birmingham School of Art
Depositing User: Susan May
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2017 16:56
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2017 16:56

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