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Hagiography As An Instrument For Political Claims In Carolingian Northern Italy: The Saint Syrus Dossier (BHL 7976 And 7978)

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Chapter Summary

Repositories of the sacred, relics were important symbolic objects throughout the Middle Ages, considered arbiters of peace, stability and prosperity by the communities that possessed them. The relics of St Syrus, first bishop of Pavia, were transferred by Bishop Donumdei probably in the second quarter of the ninth century. Bishop Donumdei was the only figure of civil authority that played anything like a leading role in the translation, at least according to the Translatio sancti Syri. The Translatio sancti Syri closely reflects the cultural and intellectual milieu of the first half of the ninth century, being engaged in the struggle against the iconoclastic dissent towards the cult of saints and their relics. It reveals that Pavia was also involved in the turmoil of this debate. Similar hagiographic reports were not written in Italian monasteries, unlike the rest of the Empire where texts created in monastic scriptoria were predominant.

Keywords: Italian monasteries; Middle Ages; Pavia; St Syrus; Translatio sancti Syri



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