Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

Sacralité, pouvoir, identité : Une histoire du vêtement d'autel : (XIIIe - XVIe siècles)

Abstract : This thesis outlines an historical anthropology of liturgical objects. It examines liturgical vestment through a collection of 454 chasubles or orphreys from the XIII to the XVIth century, with additional written and iconographical sources. Based on a « cultural biography of things » approach, it considers functions, representations and uses of liturgical vestment. In the last centuries of the Middle Ages, the perception and function of liturgical vestment are determined by established norms which are fixed rather than flexible, implanted in ritual by ecclesiastical authorities. Yet, this vestment might function outside mass: as a relic, an accessory in liturgical drama or sacred inversion rites, as a funeral costume. It becomes a motif imbued with its own meaning, appearing in images with no reference to mass. Part one determines how liturgical costume is constructed, in a material as well as imaginative point of view. It is gradually standardized. Ecclesiastical authorities justify the use of special clothes for mass and impose a number of practices in order to make this vestment sacred. Manufacture of these special clothes, however, involves secular laborers in no small part. Part two focuses on the functions of vestment as a part of the visual context and in relation to the body. Its role in ritual performance is explored, as well as the functions of iconographical program. The question of how liturgical costume emphasizes clerical identity is central. Finally, part three considers transfers of liturgical objects to other practices. Liturgical vestment turns into an emblem - part of construction of clerical identity, indeed of « ecclesiastical propaganda » -, or a magic object. Chapter 9 focuses on the wish to ridicule or desecrate liturgical vestment. In conclusion, this study shows that liturgical ornaments have acquired a symbolic dimension. They are regarded as sacred and powerful. Schematically, this object serving a practical purpose (ustensilia) become an ornamentum, an element distinguishing the clergy in performing his function (during mass) and through his function (in particular in iconography).
Document type :
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Abes Star :  Contact
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 2:12:12 PM
Last modification on : Friday, November 6, 2020 - 4:48:50 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, January 10, 2014 - 4:24:25 AM


Version validated by the jury (STAR)


  • HAL Id : tel-00871317, version 1



Nadège Bavoux. Sacralité, pouvoir, identité : Une histoire du vêtement d'autel : (XIIIe - XVIe siècles). Religions. Université de Grenoble, 2012. Français. ⟨NNT : 2012GRENH008⟩. ⟨tel-00871317⟩



Record views


Files downloads