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Open Access 8 ‘As if they had physically visited the holy places’

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8 ‘As if they had physically visited the holy places’

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Chapter Summary

In the collections of Radboud University Library are two sixteenth-century manuscripts that contain internal, or mental, pilgrimages through the city of Jerusalem. One element sets them apart from the popular devotion known as the Stations of the Cross: both texts mention the exact distances between the sites. This makes it theoretically possible for the readers to duplicate the journey of Christ to Mount Calvary while trying to imagine his suffering. The mental pilgrims could earn remissions of temporal punishment 'as if they had physically visited the holy places'. Pilgrimage exercises were not limited to sites in Jerusalem, but focused on relics in Rome as well. Apparently, the mental pilgrimage gave the devotee freedom to 'move' beyond geographical and temporal boundaries. Additionally, the exercises combine traditional meditations on the Life and Passion of Christ with popular fifteenth-century devotions such as the Sorrows of the Virgin and the rosary.

Keywords: Christ; Jerusalem; mental pilgrims; Mount Calvary; Radboud University Library; Rome

10.1163/9789004270855_010
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