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Innocent III and the Roman Veronica: papal PR or Eucharistic icon?

Rist, R. (2017) Innocent III and the Roman Veronica: papal PR or Eucharistic icon? In: Murphy, A., Kessler, H. L., Petolettti, M., Duffy, E. and Milanese, G. (eds.) The European Fortune of the Roman Veronica in the Middle Ages. Brepols, Turnhout, pp. 114-125. ISBN 9782503580005 (Convivium Supplementum II)

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Propagated by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216), the cult of the Roman Veronica became an important focus of pilgrimage to Rome during the thirteenth century through the Jubilee Year of 1300. This paper analyses whether Innocent's perpetuation of the Veronica cult was part of a religious program of reform and renewal to emphasize the Eucharist at the center of Catholic life, or a public relations stunt designed to enhance the status of Rome, the papacy, and his pontificate. It argues that the cult of the Veronica was not just an exercise in public relations to foster the growth of papal power, not was it a mere symbol of the religious climate of an age which saw the formalization of sacramental theology. Rather, the cult should also be understood in the light of Innocent's personal devotion to the Eucharist manifested through both public preaching and private prayers. Furthermore, the paper explores how devotion to the Veronica soon took on a life of its own independent of Innocent III's original aims. Hence, the phenomenon of the Veronica not only tells us much about the nature of medieval piety but also gives us insight, via the icon, into one of the most formidable and complex popes of the High Middle Ages.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS)
ID Code:73901

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