Shimrit Shriki, MA
Calvaries, Viae Crucis, copies of the Holy Sepulchre, Lent and Christmas scenes in German speaking countries
National-religious commemorative practice within the context of Jerusalem emulations in Germany and Austria
During the 17th and 18th centuries, hundreds of sites commemorating Christ’s Via Dolorosa, his path of suffering, were erected all over Europe. The most common manifestation in Germany and Austria are Kalvarienberge (Calvary Mountains), architectural complexes -- usually consisting of 5, 7 or 14 stations -- situated on hills imitating the topography of the Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. Kalvarienberge can be perceived as early forms of Gedenkstätten, places of memory, as each station evokes -- through the combination of word, image and architecture -- a different event of the Passion of Christ in the mind of the believer. Researching the history of Kalvarienberge, it becomes apparent that these sites have a dynamic character, with stations removed, added or transformed, charging them with new meaning in each generation until this day.
While visiting several sites in the area of Innsbruck, I noticed the reappearance of variously shaped monuments commemorating the dead soldiers of the two World Wars, in the context of the Kalvarienberge. Visiting Klagenfurt, I then came across a truly symbiotic approach of commemoration, which integrates the fourteen Stations of the Cross with the Landes¬gedächtnisstätte, the state memorial of Carinthia. In Bad Ischl, I saw this connection not only in relation to the two World Wars, but in relation to a more recent political conflict, the civil war in Yugoslavia. These examples are a testament to a tradition -- which has not yet been addressed by the research -- of Kalvarienberge functioning as central sites of commemoration and compassion in the life of the local communities today.
This research focuses on those interesting new meanings that Kalvarienberge and other Jerusalem sites gained in recent decades. It will introduce the contemporary relevance of these sites and their function in the popular practice of commemoration. In this regard, Germany and Austria are particularly interesting, since they offer a large corpus of study cases. Moreover, commemorating the war in the context of the Passion of Christ, the iconic form of suffering, is leading to the identification of the soldiers as martyrs. A study of the question of victimisation, which binds the suffering of Christ and the suffering of the nation, is especially relevant in the case of Germany and Austria. Studies of the Austrian and German Opferrolle, focus almost entirely on the national and political domain, while this research will contribute the manifestation of victimisation in the communal and private sphere, as well as in religious practice. This research will thus offer a new view on memory culture in Europe, emphasising the reciprocal imposition between religious processional devotion and contemporary commemorative practice.
The holy tomb aedicule of Narbonne
In the scholarly literature, the Narbonne tomb aedicule (today in the city’s Musée archéologique) is referred to as the first monumental representation of Christ’s Tomb in Jerusalem outside the Holy Land. Thus, it is used as a tool to reconstruct the original Tomb’s erstwhile appearance. By contrast, this research project examines the unique Narbonne monument in the framework of relationships between the Holy Land and the area of Gallia Narbonensis; that is, as an outcome of the visual and liturgical impact of the Holy Sepulchre on the West. Such relations are central to understanding the object, since it is most likely at least partially a result of early Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land as expressed in pilgrims’ itineraries of the time. The object certainly holds clues regarding the liturgy in Gallia Narbonensis during the early Christian and medieval periods, which probably placed the cult of the Holy Tomb at its very core.
Study trip to the area of Innsbruck,
Research topic: Kalvarienberge in Southern Bavaria and the Innsbruck Area
Simon Hilber and Shimrit Shriki
In the area of southern Germany and Tyrol in Austria there is a plentiful tradition of Kalvarienberge, i.e. religious sites imitating the Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem. Especially in Tyrol, the distribution of Kalvarienberge is widespread, to the extent that almost every larger village flaunts one of them. The study trip focused on documenting these complexes, which were established from the 17th to the 19th century. Seven sites were chosen for closer examination: Bad Tölz and Lenggries in Upper Bavaria, and Arzl, Flaurling, Rietz, Mösern and Mieders in Tyrol. These sites not only appeared interesting for an individual study, but also their close proximity to one another indicates the importance of the area in the research on the establishment and development of Kalvarienberge.
The examined Kalvarienberge are all well preserved, many having been renovated recent years through the initiative of local communities, clubs or parishes. The sites, all of which are Catholic, are usually owned by the village, not by the church. The study shows that the initiative to establish a Kalvarienberg, in addition to its religious value and liturgical function, has become a matter of local pride, with the various Kalvarienberge stylistically influencing each other. For example, the decision to build one in Bad Tölz was strongly influenced by the fact that the neighbouring Lenggries already had one, and the decision to beautify the Lenggries Kalvarienberg with a canopied scala sancta was influenced by the Bad Tölz model.
The study of the Kalvarienberge revealed another function of these sites as places of modern commemoration: they host monuments and plaques dedicated to the memory of local victims of the First and Second world wars as well as more recent conflicts. For example, the Kalvarienberg in Arzl hosts a monument with plaques engraved with the names of soldiers from the local village who died in either of the two world wars. The decision to place a commemorative object within the context of a Kalvarienberg, with its meaningful symbolism, creates a clear visual and symbolic connection between the memorial and the Kalvarienberg, which calls for further study. This phenomenon contradicts the often-held notion that a Kalvarienberge is a medium of the past, an anachronism in a secularized society; these sites play an important present-day role as an expression of community pride. This role has not diminished in recent years; on the contrary, one can speak of a renaissance of Kalvarienberge, a new appreciation of their cultural value for the community.
This research trip led to further investigation of the place of Kalvarienberge in today’s society, focusing on the aspect of commemoration in the spatial context of Kalvarienberge in Austria. This was followed by a presentation on the subject in the framework of the VI Annual Convention der Österreich - Zentren (Vienna, 24-28 October 2012).
Study trip to Narbonne, France
Research topic: The Holy Tomb in Narbonne: A Visual Manifestation of the Connections between Gallia Narbonensis and the Holy Land in Late Antiquity
The city of Narbonne, established by the Roman Empire on the Mediterranean shores of southern France, holds a mini-scale representation of the aedicule of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
This unique object of Pyrenean marble, once exhibited in the Musée lapidaire of Narbonne and today at the Musée archéologique, is considered to be the earliest (fifth century) and, therefore, most accurate representation of the Tomb of Christ in its Constantinian stage. The aims of the research trip were to closely examine and visually document the object, take measurements, look for local literature, meet local experts and experience the old city of Narbonne in order to better understand the historical circumstances which led to the creation of such a monument in that place and time.
The trip led to the discovery and appreciation of related objects that were exhibited next to the monument. The most important of these is the lintel from the fifth-century basilica of Rusticus, bishop of Narbonne, whom I consider a possible patron of the mini-scale Holy Sepulchre representation.
Study trip to Reichenau and Constance, Germany
Research topic: 10th-century Representation of the Anastasis Rotunda and the Holy Tomb
Simon Hilber and Shimrit Shriki
The Tomb aedicule of Constance (Das Heilige Grab zu Konstanz) is a small architecture in Gothic style, situated at the centre of the Mauritius rotunda annexed to the cathedral of Constance Unserer Lieben Frau. The original aedicule was erected around the year 960 on the initiative of Bishop Conrad of Constance (c. 900-975) on his return from a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After having visited the Holy Land around the year 939, this time, around the year 955, Bishop Conrad went to Jerusalem with the intention to document the measurements of the Holy Tomb and, accordingly, erect a representation of it in his city. Presumably, Bishop Conrad initiated the erection of the Maurutius rotunda not only as a representation and commemoration of the place of burial and resurrection of the Lord, but also as a place for his own burial. Bishop Conrad’s own grave was located within and outside of the western wall of the Mauritius rotunda, about 30 centimetres under its original floor level.
The Tomb aedicule of Constance is highly significant for the research of translations of Jerusalem in Europe, since it is one of the earliest existing monumental representations of the Holy Tomb within a rotunda, referring to the Anastasis in Jerusalem. It is almost impossible to reconstruct the appearance of the Holy Tomb of Constance in Bishop Conrad’s time, since around 1260 it was remodelled according to the contemporary Gothic style.
Although very little is known about its original appearance, there are reliable textual sources documenting the voyages of the patron, Bishop Conrad, to the Holy Land, and his outspoken intentions to establish a Holy Sepulchre in Constance. His burial in close proximity to the Empty Tomb indicates the significance of the Tomb aedicule in the religious life of Constance, that is, its redemptive value. The Tomb aedicule of Constance is currently being studied in relation to the original in Jerusalem, and in the context of its geographically related Holy Tomb representations in Zürich, Reichenau and St. Gallen.