Reliquienimport als Kultzirkulation. Papst Symmachus, das Laurentianische Schisma und die Dynamik der Einbürgerung nicht-römischer Heiligen in Rom

‘Translation of the Relics of St. Clement’, mural painting, end of 11th century, San Clemente

The German Archaeological Institute together with the renowned Bibliotheca Hertziana organise a quite interesting workshop on ‘imported relics’ in Rome in October 2020.

While I already dealt with the distribution of Roman relics in the Carolingian Franca, the relics, which were imported to Rome, is indeed a intriguing aspect worth looking into. This is the abstract of my proposal, which I will present on the workshop:

While the Roman Liber pontificalis largely ignores the import of relics to Rome before the 8th century, popes were often presented as generous patrons of one or another non-Roman martyr’s cult in the city. Remarkably, the number of dedications to non-local martyr’s increased significantly during the tenure of pope Symmachus I (498-514), but dropped immediately afterwards again. A scholarsly consensus acknowledges that the increased number of dedications to non-Roman saints served to mitigate the institutional and personal crisis during the so called Laurentian schism. The question, however, were those partly ‘top-class’ relics came from and more importantly, how Symmachus managed to get his hands on them during his voluntary exile in the Vatican complex, is largely ignored. By analysing all Symmachian dedications to non-Roman saints, this contribution aims to reconstruct the most plausible origin of individual import relics. It argues that despite of the diversity of imported relics, Symmachus used predominantly two sources—the spiritual treasuries of Ravenna and Milan—to satisfy his partly very specific needs.