Sewing the Body of Christ : Eucharist wafer souvenirs stitched into fifteenth-century manuscripts, primarily in the Netherlands
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Books of hours in the fifteenth century occupied several social and devotional roles. People used them to store small objects, including metal badges. Although the cultural practice of sewing in badges was widespread in the late Middle Ages, nearly all of the badges were removed (by later collectors). This article examines the practice by considering needle holes and offsets in the soft parchment, which indicate the shape of the badges and where they were attached. Noting that vast majority of metal offsets in books of hours are round, the author posits that these were not impressed by pilgrims’ badges, as is often repeated in the scholarly literature, but rather by tokens that commemorate having taken the Eucharist. The round badges are the same size and shape and bear the same imagery as host wafers. Owners stitched such badges into their books’ margins at locations relevant to Eucharistic piety. When they were sewn into books, Eucharist badges reconfigured the book as a shrine that recorded a votary’s pursuit of Communion.
Rudy , K M 2016 , ' Sewing the Body of Christ : Eucharist wafer souvenirs stitched into fifteenth-century manuscripts, primarily in the Netherlands ' , Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art , vol. 8 , no. 1 . https://doi.org/10.5092/jhna.2016.8.1.1
Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art
© 2015 Historians of Netherlandish Art. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.5092/jhna.2016.8.1.1
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