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

About the Project

My forthcoming book titled The Holy Tear of Christ: Visual and Performance Culture at the Benedictine Abbey of La Trinité, Vendôme, ca. 1150-1550 discusses the history and development of the cult of the Holy Tear at the Benedictine abbey of La Trinité in Vendôme, France. Founded in the eleventh century, the abbey quickly grew in stature due to its possession of a precious Christological relic: a tear shed by Christ at the tomb of Lazarus. Such a precious relic required an environment that would make the sacred aura and miracle-working power of the tear tangible to its audience, by playing on sensory experiences, such as sound, vision, and movement that unfolded within the architectural space of the abbey.

The book traces the staging of this relic by the monks at La Trinité from the eleventh through sixteenth centuries. The architecture, visual culture, and music played together in creating an ethereal experience of the relic of the Holy Tear. We invite you to explore in the following pages the evidence from which we can gain an understanding of the dynamic visual and performance culture of a late medieval abbey.

Whereas the printed book will consider the visual and performance culture surrounding the display of the Holy Tear of Christ in a traditional monograph format, this teaching companion invites students and the public into the visual, aural, and kinesthetic evidence on which the book is based. This Scalar teaching companion aims to foster an understanding of how humanities research is carried out in libraries and archives. By making these sources accessible in an interactive form, students can discover how these sources can be used to help us make sense of the past.

Users can explore the material by following multiple pathways through this teaching companion. Readers can choose to follow the chapters of the printed book (forthcoming). Readers can also choose to explore the archival material by repository or by type of document.


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