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    God's cell: Christ as prisoner and pilgrimage to the prison of Christ

    Bale, Anthony (2016) God's cell: Christ as prisoner and pilgrimage to the prison of Christ. Speculum 91 (1), pp. 1-35. ISSN 0038-7134.

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    At the rear of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is a small chapel known as the Prison of Christ. The Prison of Christ became a popular pilgrimage site for Latin Christians during the Middle Ages, effectively providing a setting for Christ's captivity during the Passion. This article gives an account of the Prison's origins and its early development. It places the 'invention' of the Prison in the context of the Crusaders' adaptation of pre-existing local traditions at the Palestinian holy spaces. At the same time, the Prison reflected western ideas about punishment, incarceration and the rise of Purgatory and pilgrimage. The Crusaders' understanding of the Prison of Christ should thus be considered within the burgeoning culture of imprisonment and tariffed penance in western Europe. The article then turns to pilgrimage writings and travel literature concerning the Prison of Christ, to demonstrate the knowledge of the Prison amongst western Christians and the uses they made of the site. It shows how the Prison was a canonical locus of the pilgrims' route and was then itself incorporated into 'virtual pilgrimages' and itineraries. This essay discloses how medieval sources consistently describe how Christ was held in a prison. The history and use of the Prison of Christ reveals the interplay of western ideas and eastern space. Pilgrimage writing shows how Latin Christians understood and remade a holy site in Jerusalem, both culturally and materially.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Jerusalem, pilgrimage, imprisonment, Palestine, medieval prisons, imprisonment, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, popular religion
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Gender and Sexuality, Birkbeck (BiGS), Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for (BISR)
    Depositing User: Anthony Bale
    Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2016 15:08
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:37

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