Theses Doctoral

Holy Blood, Holy Cross: Architecture and Devotion in the Parochial Complex of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Boivin, Katherine Morris

This dissertation explores the spatiality of the parochial complex in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the dynamic interrelation of architecture, figural art, and devotional practice. Among the spaces of the parish church of St. Jakob, the neighboring charnel-house chapel of St. Michael, and the urban cemetery between unfolded an intricate thematic program whose leitmotif was a miracle-working blood relic. Scholars are beginning to reassess the role of architecture in structuring and creating meaning among the seemingly disparate elements of medieval multi-media church programs. This meaning was not only contained in individual artworks but was also expressed in the interrelation among different pieces. The parochial complex of Rothenburg ob der Tauber was bookended by two elevated chapels: the pilgrimage chapel of the west end of St. Jakob contained the altarpiece of the Holy Blood by Tilman Riemenschneider; the free-standing octagonal cemetery chapel of St. Michael housed a Riemenschneider altarpiece of the Holy Cross. Between these spaces stretched an intricate network of associations that promised the faithful resurrection and salvation. Chapter one considers the potential for patrons to convey meaning through the choice of recognizable architectural models. Chapter two studies the power of local campaigns and spatial compositions to stage pilgrimage and to promise divine protection to the faithful. Chapter three demonstrates the ability of architecture to draw simultaneously on local referents and on distant prototypes in order to communicate ideas. Finally, chapter four explores the interconnections among the spaces of an architectural complex and among the elements of its multi-media figural program.


  • thumnail for Boivin_columbia_0054D_11129.pdf Boivin_columbia_0054D_11129.pdf application/pdf 327 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Murray, Stephen D.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 19, 2013