Dancing with Sainte Foy. Movement and the Iconic Presence

Authors

FOLETTI Ivan

Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Convivium
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Keywords Sainte Foy; iconic presence; Liber Miraculorum; power of faces; iconology of materials; heavenly body; pilgrims’ perception
Description An exceptional work of early medieval art, the reliquary of Sainte Foy in Conques is the perfect object for understanding the notion of “iconic presence” around the year 1000. Bernard of Angers wrote his well-known Liber miraculorum to promote the cult of this particular saint. The book is one of many of its genre, but Bernard’s approach is unique in the way it describes the reception of Sainte Foy’s reliquary. Bernard tries to distinguish between relics and reliquary, but his text makes clear that, for the faithful, reality was different: the reliquary can take on the saint’s own holiness. A second fundamental element also emerges from the Liber miraculorum: it is movement that releases the saint’s full power – both the reliquary’s movement and that of the pilgrims who come to worship in Conques. This dual mobility reaches its climax during the nights of incubatio before the statue of Sainte Foy. Candlelight animates her entire person, and the light reflected in her eyes mirrors the motion of the faithful prostrating themselves before her. An object or an image thus becomes, more than ever, a presence.
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