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A View of the Eucharist on the Eve of the Protestant Reformation

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Chapter Summary

Focusing on a range of objects and images produced in central and northern Europe between c. 1400 and c. 1530, this chapter explores the decidedly visual nature of eucharistic culture on the eve of the Reformation. It is divided into two parts, the first deals with the liturgical stage-management of the Eucharist, and the second with the sacrament's iconographic orchestration. The chapter investigates how concepts such as "real presence" or "the spiritual eye" were conveyed through visual means. Artists and liturgists had long struggled to bridge the seemingly insurmountable gap between sensus and intellectus, especially during the fifteenth century. In representation of eucharistic triumphalism, the vasa sacra reveals a deeper, darker meaning. In Hans Fries' relentless pictorial allegory, regeneration and annihilation, elevatioand cessatio, the vision of the Eucharist and the vision of death, are sides of the same coin.

Keywords: Eucharist; Hans Fries; protestant reformation



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