Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe
Saints & Martyrs Many early Christians died defending their faith. Consequently, the first group of men and women to be set apart because of their holiness, that is to be called saints, were the holy martyrs.
In later centuries, confessors, hermits and virgins also joined the communion of saints, comprised of the souls of holy men and women, who continued to act as intercessors in heaven on behalf of humankind on earth.
Relics & Reliquaries The physical remains of holy men and women and the objects associated with them play a central role in a number of religions and cultures.
These remains, or relics, were especially important to the development of Christianity. They testified to Christ's presence and ministry on earth and established a powerful connection between God and humankind after his Resurrection.
Shrines & Places Inspired by religious devotion, or the hope of witnessing a miracle, Christians who could afford to travel would visit holy sites, sometimes stopping at more than one location during a single trip.
Many made the journey to the Holy Land, while others undertook a pilgrimage to major centers in Europe, like Rome, Santiago da Compostela, and Canterbury. In either case, pilgrims often faced dangerous conditions on their quest to come into contact with the remains of holy men and women.