medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Dear Christopher,

First, let me confess I didn't read to the end of your
But one sentence struck me (of what I read).
Saint-Denis, if one is to believe *most* books
treating of its history, was originally a... basilica!
"Built" by Sainte Genevieve over the supposed tomb of
Denis in a cemetery of Catolacum and, according to
ctault's posting, probably requiring the pope's
participation in its designation as such. It was
Dagobert who imported some Benedictines to care for
the shrine and pray for his ever-blackening soul. The
church thus became a basilical abbatiale. It was
likewise Dagobert who decided to be buried in its
precincts. (The discovery of the tomb of the
Merovingian Aregonde, Saint Radegonde's sister-wife of
some polygamous king [Clotaire?] during a dig under
the church caused quite a stir as I recall.)
If we are speaking of the _current_ edifice, which
replaced/enlarged a Carolingian S-D, then yes, it was
"always" an abbatiale. Depends on what the meaning of
"is" is or of what "was" is ;-)))
--- Christopher Crockett <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval
> religion and culture
> Marjorie Greene wrote:
> >what has basilical status have to do with
> "cathedralism"?
> nothing, far as i know.
> but, then, i have to say that i'm not quite sure
> what "cathedralism" is...
> ...the worship of big, fancy chairs?
> sounds kinky, even for contemporary catholics.
> >The word "basilica" has, as far as I know, two
> meanings: a church built to
> house relics;
> i've never heard that one before, but, if you say
> so, it's fine with me.
> (though, aren't *all* churches more or less built to
> "house relics" --at least
> to the extent that they must be equiped with at
> least one altar and that
> altar, in order to be fully functional, had to be
> furnished with at least one
> relic?)
> >an edifice in a certain architectural style: nave,
> perhaps with side aisles,
> with a rounded apse at one end.
> CTAult's point.
> >If there's a rule that a cathedral may not also be
> a basilica, I don't know
> of it.
> me neither.
> how about we start here:
> (not a particularly good one, but
> at hand):
> "BASILICA: Latin, from Greek _basilikE_, from
> feminine of _basilikos_ royal,
> from _basileus_ king
> "Date: 1541
> 1 : an oblong building ending in a semicircular apse
> used in ancient Rome
> especially for a court of justice and place of
> public assembly
> 2 : an early Christian church building consisting of
> nave and aisles with
> clerestory and a large high transept from which an
> apse projects
> 3 : a Roman Catholic church given ceremonial
> privileges"
> numbers 1 & 2 are the "traditional" (CTAultean)
> meanings, used to describe a
> particular type of Late Roman ecclesiatical
> building.  and i assume that the
> use of this (Greek or Latinized Greek) word to
> designate such buildings goes
> back to contemporary writers (e.g., Eusebius?).
> (if i'm not mistaken, there were pre- and post-310
> secular "basilicas" which
> were large structures purpose-built for housing an
> Imperial court, i.e., the
> court of the "Basileus."  and the Christians ripped
> off the term --and parts
> of the architecture [e.g., the "apse"]-- from there.
>  At least, this is the
> term i've seen in art historical literature to refer
> to such secular
> structures [as at Split]).
> definition 3 implies some kind of special, modern
> designation (presumably by
> the Pope), and, in my understanding, it is in this
> specific sense that the
> [originally] abbey church of Saint-Denis can be so
> called --but only from the
> end of the 19th century (or whenever it was so
> designated).
> if this supposition is correct, then Saint-Denis,
> originally built as an abbey
> church, is *still* an abbey church, even though
> there happens to be no abbey
> housed there now (because, in my stubborn way of
> thinking, "once an abbey
> church, always an abbey church," at least Art
> Hysterically speaking).
> i.e., if i'm writing an article which includes a
> discussion of the
> architecture (or glass, or sculpture) of that place,
> i'll caption an
> accompanying illustration "Abbey of Saint-Denis,..."
> now, i *could* add to that caption --or even use
> instead of "abbey"-- the
> terms "basilca" and/or "cathedral" and i would be
> --*literally*-- quite
> correct, but, because of the very specific,
> technical meanings which both
> those words have when refering in scholarly writing
> to medieval buildings, i
> would be introducing a source of potentially great
> confusion in the minds of
> my hapless readers if i did so.
> far as i'm concerned, whatever it's *subsequent*
> (much less present) use or
> designation might be, for my limited, akademical
> purposes, that building is an
> "abbey church."
> now, from the 19th century (or whenever the Pope
> designated it as such), it's
> been a "basilica."
> and anyone who is interested in being strictly
> accurate in naming the building
> *in a modern context* (which i am not) must, by
> rights, call it by that term.
> except for the fact that, so we've been told on good
> authority, in 1966 it
> was, as the French say, "erected into a cathedral"
> when it became the seat of
> an episcopal suffragan of the archdiocese of Paris.
> so, best i can see, the building itself is all
> *three,* at the same time,
> simultaneously, as we speak:
> --abbey church, because of the original purpose for
> which it was built (and
> which must be taken into account in order to explain
> certain features of its
> architecture and decoration);
> --"basilica," in the sense of definition 3 (but
> *not* nos. 1 & 2) above, ever
> since its formal designation as such by whatever
> Designating Authority may
> have had the Authority to so Designate it thus (and
> which designation will
> have little or no effect upon the fabric of the
> building as we have it);
> --Cathedral, i.e., the building now housing the
> _cathedra_ of an active and
> installed Bishop (which desination may have some
> more or less superficial
> effect on the fabric --e.g., the placement of an
> actual cathedra).
> that's the way i see it, anyway.
> corrections welcomed, but i'll go down with all
> flags flying on this one.
> [log in to unmask] wrote:
> >Or am I wrong?
> well, the truth hurts, but, probably.
> >All this about collegiate churches and monasteries
> is fascinating, but I'm
> still unclear what you mean here.
> lookit, my own little ideosyncratic universe is
> ruled by ad hoc-isms which
> i've gleaned from direct contact with the charter
> evidence from a very limited
> place (the Chartrain) and time (11th-12th
> centuries), and what i've ended up
> with from that source may or may not have any
> relationship with what anyone
> else might think.
> thus,
> --"Abbey" denotes *any* monastic institution which
> is headed by an Abbot
> ("_abbatia_, abbey, from _abbat-, abbas_");
> --as opposed, say, to a Priory, which is a monastic
> institution
=== message truncated ===

Do You Yahoo!?
Send FREE video emails in Yahoo! Mail!

To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: