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Sacred Image, Civic Spectacle, and Ritual Space: Tivoli's Inchinata Procession and Icons in Urban Liturgical Theater in Late Medieval Italy

Perry, Rebekah (2012) Sacred Image, Civic Spectacle, and Ritual Space: Tivoli's Inchinata Procession and Icons in Urban Liturgical Theater in Late Medieval Italy. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines the socio-politics of urban performance and ceremonial imagery in the nascent independent communes of late medieval Lazio. It explores the complex manner in which these central Italian cities both emulated and rejected the political and cultural hegemony of Rome through the ideological and performative reinvention of its cult icons. In the twelfth century the powerful urban center of Tivoli adopted Rome’s grandest annual public event, the nocturnal Assumption procession of August 14-15, and transformed it into a potent civic expression that incorporated all sectors of the social fabric. Tivoli’s cult of the Trittico del Salvatore and the Inchinata procession in which the icon of the enthroned Christ was carried at the feast of the Assumption and made to perform in symbolic liturgical ceremonies were both modeled on Roman, papal exemplars. The Tiburtine procession, however, became a ritual communal act and its Savior icon an apotropaic palladium that protected the city from spiritual and material dangers. Rather than a mere imitation of Roman practices, the Inchinata was a unique, site-specific rite that preserved communal memory and constructed new religious and social narratives. The sacred geography of the procession drew all of the city’s most strategic religious, defensive, and historical monuments into a self-referential spatial and ritual matrix that sacralized the city’s defensive structures, invoked its protector saints, and celebrated its sacred history and local mythology. Through this ritual, Tivoli, a perennial military rival of Rome, “branded” itself as a formidable political and cultural rival as well. I contextualize this tradition by examining a spectrum of analogous cases in Lazio where other late medieval processional “copies” of Rome’s Acheropita icon were in reality powerful local symbols of communal identity and indices of an evolving civic self-awareness. My treatment of this phenomenon addresses fundamental underlying questions about the origins of religious drama and the evolution of urban culture in a transformative period for the Italian city, a period characterized by fierce political ambition, rapid secularization, and artistic innovation.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Perry, Rebekahrep22@pitt.eduREP22
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairStones, Alison
Committee MemberToker, Franklin
Committee MemberWeis, Anne
Committee MemberVernarde, Bruce
Date: 1 February 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 October 2011
Approval Date: 1 February 2012
Submission Date: 8 December 2011
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 293
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Tivoli, Lazio, Inchinata, Trittico del Salvatore, liturgical procession, religious drama, icon, feast of the Assumption, Madonna Avvocata
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2012 14:03
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2017 06:15


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