Teams and subprojects

Copenhagen: Saints, Identity and Cultural Memory in Regions around Øresund-Gotland, from c. 1100 to the Present Day.

The Copenhagen team examines the reception of saints’ cults from the early Middle Ages to the present, but with an emphasis on the early modern and modern periods. The project begins with the mapping of saints in the region(s) in question, i.e. Øresund, Zealand, Scania, as well as the diocese of Linköping—particularly Gotland—in all media in the Middle Ages, studying, among other phenomena, church dedications, records of the foundation of/donations to altars, chapels, benefices, etc. Among the visual sources are wall paintings, sculptures, and places of pilgrimage. In addition, narrative (including both written and oral texts) and musical sources will be drawn into the project. Particular emphasis will be placed on the thirteenth-century office of Saint Knud Lavard office and its reception in a saint’s play preserved from the late sixteenth century. This office honors Duke Knud Lavard, a Danish prince (c. 1090-1131) murdered by a rival and canonised at Ringsted church in 1170 at the initiative of his son King Valdemar the Great. Another segment of this project will examine the role(s) played by saints in urban identities throughout the region. Throughout the project, questions of identity will be discussed in relation to the concept of cultural memory as introduced by Jan and Aleida Assmann. 


Krems: The Visual Representation of Saints – Closeness, Distance, Identification and Identity, Twelfth-Sixteenth Centuries.

The Krems part of the project examines the role of the visual representation of saints in Central Europe, the levels and complexities of these representations and their influence on popular perceptions of saints – with particular emphasis on how the saints were differently produced, used, and perceived at local, regional, ‘national’ and ‘general’ levels. It looks at ways of communicating with saints, how model lifestyles were presented by them, and how they helped people identify with various types of community. The Krems team will tracing images showing local or regional space contexts of saints by way of the database that has been built up over many years in Krems. Altogether, a comparative, qualitative as well as quantitative analysis of visual representations of saints in Central Europe will be undertaken in order to design a network of saints and spaces (not only in a geographical sense) aiming to offer answers to the question, how saints were “read” by their community and other beholders, and how these readings were transformed over the broadly-defined period of 12th-16th centuries. 


Tallinn: Shifting Identities: Communities in Medieval and Early Modern Livonia (c. 1200 – c. 1700) through the Prism of Saints.

The Tallinn team will examine the historical region called Livonia. Medieval Livonia corresponds to Estonia and Latvia today but was formerly a crucial frontier of Catholic Europe against heathendom and also Orthodox Russia. Through a complex history the territory was conquered and Christianised by the Germans and Danes in the early 13th century. After the Russian-Livonian War in 1558 it was divided between Sweden, Poland, and Denmark. By the early 17th century, most of the region fell under Swedish, and by 1710, under Russian rule. The German conquest of Livonia was carried out under the patronage of the Virgin Mary and the entire region was dedicated to her. The project will study the role of the Virgin Mary, but also the ‘Hanseatic saints’ (e.g. St Nicholas) and their promoters in Livonian towns and discuss why no local saints ever emerged in Livonia (There were ‘national’ (mainly royal) saints in every neighbouring or culturally related country, but none in Livonia.


Trondheim: Chants that Bind and Break: Reflections of Ideology and Identity in Offices for the Saints, from Carolingian to Early modern Europe.

The Trondheim part of the project explores identity-related aspects of saints’ offices (historiae) from the 9th century until the Reformation (and beyond). The analysis of saints’ offices becomes especially interesting if they are confronted with general political history. The different ‘political’ meanings given to various cults/offices in history will be compared, and the project will explore the ways in which the melodies of saints offices contribute discursive interpretations to texts which often in themselves carry explicit information about how saints were seen as markers of local identity. Liturgical music here works as an indicator of pan-European socio-political ramifications in liturgy, pointing to local ‘identity’. Musicological analysis is employed to uncover indications of political meanings in melodies pointing out for instance gradual changes in ambitus and the use of melismas on particularly significant words. Discussions of such features will in turn be made fruitful through reception historical studies of popular saint. 


Budapest: Communicating Sainthood -- Constituting Regions and Nations in East-Central Europe, Tenth-Sixteenth Centuries.

The Budapest team treats the cults of medieval saints focusing on interactions between centre and periphery, between the medieval Latin culture and regional interests, political and cultural agendas, drawing on various media: besides hagiography, four domains will be examined: healing miracles, sermons, visual images, and public ceremonies. The project will give a systematic overview of the contribution of saints’ cults to the constitution of local, regional and national identities in East-Central Europe. Such a systematic reflection on how the cults of saints have contributed to the fluctuating evolution or resurgence of local, territorial, and national identities has not yet been given. Some specific cults, important in the region, are studied by the team members: the cults of Saint Adalbert and of Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia (and ‘of Hungary’), Saint Margaret of Hungary, Saint Stanislaus of Cracow, Saint Ladislas, and Dalmatian urban cults. These cults bridge local, territorial, national, and European scales, and are claimed by rival communities, including monastic and mendicant orders.