Rebekah Perry Colloquium


Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 12:00pm

All Roads Lead to Rome: Processional Imagery and Paradigms of Pilgrimage in Late Medieval Lazio

Rebekah Perry, PhD Candidate, History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh

Every year for the last 10 centuries, the city of Tivoli, 17 miles east of Rome, has staged a liturgical procession on the night of August 14, the eve of the Assumption feast. In this procession, known as the Inchinata, a monumental icon of Christ Enthroned is carried around the city and made to perform in ritual ceremonies which culminate in a symbolic “bow” of salutation with an image of the Virgin. The procession and its liturgical rituals have multiple layers of theological, civic, and apotropaic meanings that evolved over time, responding to new cultural and political institutions. This presentation examines a transformative moment for the procession between the mid thirteenth and fourteenth century, a period characterized by the advent of the mendicant friars with their new models of personal devotion and do-it-yourself religion, the emergence of confraternities, the growing prominence of trade guilds, the solidifying of municipal government, the rise of the middle classes, and a new emphasis on penitential pilgrimage, especially to the city of Rome. I will argue that within this context Tivoli’s ceremonial cult image took on a new allegorical identity of “Christ-as-pilgrim” and that the Inchinata procession functioned as a type of moving morality play that “performed” new models of bourgeois Christian conduct.