Imperial aspirations : relics and reliquaries of the Byzantine periphery

Title: Imperial aspirations : relics and reliquaries of the Byzantine periphery
Variant title:
  • Imperiální ambice : relikvie a relikviáře z byzantské periferie
Source document: Convivium. 2015, vol. 2, iss. 1, pp. 182-201
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Summary language
License: Not specified license
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Reliquaries of the Byzantine periphery (Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Rus, Serbia, Wallachia, and Moldavia) have received insufficient study but deserve consideration as an innovative group. Reliquaries and shrines from these states took two forms: first, whole bodies – often uncorrupted—of foundational national figures, either ecclesiastical or political, usually placed in front of templon beams in monastery or city churches; second, circulating fragments displayed in complex arrays. The bodies were often safeguarded in fixed institutional settings in the oldest of reliquary forms: the sarcophagus. The fragments, however, were contained in reliquaries of the newer forms suggesting Western and Byzantine trends. Relics allowed the creation of the notion of a sacred state and divinely sanctioned sovereignty—both by establishing a geography of newly created power founded on holy bodies put in "place" in sacred institutions, as well as accomplishing the power transfer of the imperium into these peripheral states through the institution and growing force of imperial cults, including those of the True Cross and of the Virgin.