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The Memory of the Bishop in Medieval Cathedrals

Ceremonies and Visualizations

Edited By Gerardo Boto Varela, Isabel Escandell and Esther Lozano Lopez

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Between Commemoration and Cult: Creating and Recreating Episcopal Memory at Cologne Cathedral (Adam R. Stead)


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Between Commemoration and Cult: Creating and Recreating Episcopal Memory at Cologne Cathedral*

Abstract: This chapter examines the artistic creation of episcopal memory at Cologne Cathedral over the longue durée through diachronic case studies of two archbishops, Gero (†976) and Rainald von Dassel (†1167). The first section situates the formation of Gero and Rainald’s memory at Old Cologne Cathedral within the church’s general development as an episcopal necropolis. The second section examines the dialogue between individual and collective memory that emerged with the recreation of Gero and Rainald’s memory in retrospective tombs in the Gothic chevet. A final section analyses how the archbishops’ memory was reframed by wall paintings and stained glass windows that were added to the chevet in the 1330s, which folded Gero and Rainald’s deeds into a synthetic vision of the cathedral’s proud past and present prestige.

Keywords: Cologne Cathedral, Gero (†976), Rainald von Dassel (†1167), episcopal memory, institutional identity

Beyond the aspects that make it famous – its status as an early example of the adoption of opus francigenum in the imperial lands and as the resting place of the relics of the Magi – Cologne Cathedral’s chevet is a superlative memorial environment (Figure 1). Housed in its chapels is an impressive, if eclectic, group of episcopal tombs dating from the 1260s to the 1350s1. Most of these tombs are retrospective, containing archbishops who had died well before the start of...

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