Title

Secular Power, Sacred Authority, and Urban Topography in the Palm Sunday Procession in Late Medieval Auxerre, France

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Abstract

The Palm Sunday procession is both typical and unique. It is typical in that the procession utilizes the chants and prayers of the Roman Rite and retraces Christ's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. However, like all such processions that take place in a specific locale, Palm Sunday is unique because the procession is shaped by the order and placement of these chants within the urban topography and surrounding architectural monuments. The intersection of the universal and local elements of this liturgy is explored here using the 1537 printed processional as source material for the procession of Palms in Auxerre, from which a vivid picture emerges of the liturgy and the political dynamics in the city. As the Christocentric elements unfolded in the streets, alternative meanings were also generated by the buildings, especially the gothic-style cathedral and Benedictine abbey, which carried in their forms political, spiritual, and social dynamics of their respective communities.

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