The Abbey of La-Trinité in Vendôme, France and the Cult of the Holy Tear: An Exploration of a Multi-Sensory Devotional Experience

The Monastic Experience

This path focuses on the monk's engagement with the visual and aural environment that surrounded the Holy Tear. The first chapter investigates the stone armoire that was erected in the monk's choir in the thirteenth century. Originally, the armoire was placed on the right side of the altar (facing into the choir). Situated in this way, the armoire's iconography and functionality was directed at the monastic viewer. As the monks processed into the choir and sat in their stalls to chant the office, they would pass by and sit facing the the armoire. Additionally, the monk who celebrated Mass at the altar would be within feet of the monument and the doors to its sacred interior. While primarily this arrangement was exclusively for a monastic audience, privileged guests could also traverse through the monk's choir and be afforded a face to face encounter with the armoire. The original spatial context for the Holy Tear armoire would have been the original eleven-century church. Emily Lindbloom has created ink renderings of what this original viewing context might have looked like based on comparative and archaeological evidence.

In the final chapter, Jonathan Bading has transcribed and recorded the office of Lazarus, and collaboratively we have translated the prayers and chants. The office is located in a separate gathering in the back of a fifteenth-century antiphonal from the abbey. Taken out of a context of the liturgical year, the office was celebrated in the Roman calendar on December 17th. However, the abbey's manuscripts, including a thirteenth-century manuscript, suggests that the office was celebrated on September 19th. The breviary also carries the rubric in cappis, meaning the the monks dressed in albs and copes to signify the special status of this feast day.

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  1. Choir of La-Trinité, 13th century
  2. Adoremus Christum qui per assumptam humanitatem elevit Lazarum