From Pilgrimage to Crusade

The Liturgy of Departure 1095-1300
Faculty Scholarship
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Department of History, Dartmouth College

Speculum 88(1): 44-91

Author(s): M. Cecilia Gaposchkin

In 1293, only two years after the fall of Acre, but many years before the end of crusading aspirations to reclaim Jerusalem, William Durandus, Bishop of Mende, composed a new rite for those taking up the cross "to go in aid of the Holy Land," which he included in his magisterial and enduring edition of the Roman pontifical. In this rite the bishop would bless and then bestow to the departing crusader the devotional insignia of his canonical status: the cross, along with the traditional pilgrim's scrip and staff. Durandus' rite drew on a number of long-standing texts for travel benedictions and pilgrimage benedictions, but reworked them into an elegant whole, the sum of which was far greater than its inherited parts. It enjoined the crusader to "take up the cross" (cf. Matt. 16.24) and hasten towards "your [that is, Christ's] tomb," beseeched God to protect him from danger and absolve him from the chains of sin, and emphasized taking the cross as a passion emblematic of Christ's own salvific sacrifice. The rite thus echoed the ideals, shaped the language, and embodied the spiritual and devotional values of crusading around 1300, which had increasingly emphasized Christomimetic suffering as central to the spiritual value of crusade. As such, the rite is testament to the idea of the crusade and crusading as it had developed over the course of two centuries.

Rockefeller Center Faculty Grant Proposal: "Crusade, Liturgy, Ideology, and Devotion: 1095-1400"