From believing to seeing. The visibility of the relic in the reliquary. A contribution to the history of vision
Making relics visible in 12th century Europe was the reason for a major change of piety and history of art. The medium of the veneration of saints becomes its object, the believer becomes the observer. The act of observing now enables the observer to satisfy the onlookers´ curiosity. Regarding piety, this exteriorization means an increase of superstition. In the history of art the process of exteriorization means an initiation of the gaze, observing becomes an end in itself. Diedrichs describes several major medieval well-known relics in this course (like the Bernwardskreuz, the relic-tryptich of Ste-Croix, etc.) and discusses preconditions and parallels of the introduction of visible relics. He also discusses the ´real presence´ of the saints and cites medieval sources which document (sometimes conflicting) views from within about the new emergence of the reliquary cult. Another chapter discusses effects and meaning of iconic worship and the historical context, e.g., results from historical science on relic research.
Keywords: reliquary cult, piety and relic cult, visible relics, saints´ cult